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Grand Forks County reports first human West Nile case; 38 so far in ND

Todd Hanson, manager for mosquito control at the Grand Forks Public Health Department, examines a vial of frozen mosquitoes that are used for training purposes in species identification and testing for West Nile Virus in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS -- Grand Forks County reported its first human case of West Nile virus Thursday, Aug. 16,  as the state said there have been 38 cases so far this year.

Until now, the mosquito-transmitted virus had only been detected in insects and birds in the northeast North Dakota border county.

West Nile is most common during mosquito season -- throughout the summer and fall -- and people usually are infected after bitten. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported only one of five infected people typically will show symptoms, those usually just being a fever. The CDC further reported just one of about 150 cases will end in death.

As of Wednesday, the state Department of Health reported it has identified 38 North Dakotans this summer with West Nile virus and no fatalities.

Of the 62 patients in North Dakota last year, the health department reported two deaths.

Everyone is susceptible to West Nile, but a Thursday news release from the city of Grand Forks said the disease more severely affects people with compromised health and residents older than 50.

The city advised residents to avoid the disease by avoiding mosquito bites. Additionally, the release said residents should eliminate any access to standing water, wear sleeves whenever possible, stay inside when mosquitoes are most active during sunrise and sunset, and use insect repellent with DEET.

Emily Allen

Allen joined the Grand Forks Herald to cover local government and politics May 2018. Call her at 701-780-1102, email her at eallen@gfherald.com or follow her on Twitter, @Emily_theHerald.

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