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Two More West Nile Deaths Suspected

August 20, 2002

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Lab tests suggest that Missouri and Texas have each suffered their first deaths from the West Nile virus, health officials said.

Officials in both cases awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

A 75-year-old woman in St. Louis died Aug. 7, and Missouri health officials said an independent lab test showed that she had tested positive for West Nile. She was identified as Cora Walton by grandson Sean Walton, a technician in The Associated Press’ St. Louis office.

In Houston, a 52-year-old woman died Friday. Ethel Menefee was hospitalized Aug. 8, according to her sister, Erma Nauling.

``Our lab put her in the probable category (for West Nile) so we feel like it is going to be confirmed,″ said Kathy Barton, spokeswoman for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

Twenty-five people in Texas have been infected with West Nile, 13 of them in the Houston area, according to the state Department of Health. Seven Missourians have now tested positive, including six in the St. Louis area.

Nationwide, the CDC has confirmed 11 U.S. deaths this year from West Nile, eight of them in Louisiana. As of Monday, 251 people in 12 states have been infected with the virus this year, according to the CDC.

West Nile first appeared in the United States in 1999, when seven people infected with it in New York died. It is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Symptoms include fever, headache and body aches. Severe cases can result in coma, paralysis or death.


On the Net:

Missouri health department: http://www.dhss.state.mo.us/WestNileVirus

Texas health department: http://www.tdh.state.tx.us

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov

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