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First case of West Nile Virus found in Maryland resident

The Maryland Department of Health reported Tuesday the state’s first case of West Nile Virus found in a resident this year.

The infected person was an adult living in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and officials are warning residents to take precautions to avoid more cases of the mosquito-borne virus. The season for the pests last from summer through fall.

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West Nile is the most common infection from mosquitoes in the United States and many sufferers have no obvious symptoms and are unaware they have the virus, according to state and federal health officials.

Some people, however, develop fever, headache and body aches, rashes and vomiting, usually two to 14 days after a bite. Rarely people, usually seniors, will suffer more severe symptoms such as high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness or paralysis.

Cases of West Nile vary from year to year, according to the state Department of Health, which tracks the virus, among many other infectious diseases. There were 45 cases last year, with 5 cases in Baltimore and 9 in Baltimore County, 2 in Anne Arundel County and 5 in Harford County.

There were 6 cases recorded in Maryland in 2017, none in 2016 and 46 in 2015. In 2003, there were 73 cases, state health records show.

There have been no other cases this year of other kinds of arboviral infections, or those caused by viruses spread through mosquito and tick bites.

Health officials say people can reduce the risk of infections by wearing long sleeves and pants and hats outside, using insect repellent and just avoiding mosquito-heavy areas. Officials also recommend draining standing water where mosquitoes breed.

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