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West Nile is diagnosed in Arundel patient

West Nile virus was confirmed yesterday in a Crofton woman, making her the state's second victim this year of the mosquito-borne illness, the Anne Arundel County health department said.

Mary Sorenson, 56, said she started aching July 27, had serious joint and muscle pain by July 30 and woke up early Aug. 2 unable to move her right leg. She said she spent six hours at the Anne Arundel Medical Center emergency room.

Her partner, Tina Francken, said Sorenson initially was treated for Lyme disease. Antibiotics didn't work, so she was tested for West Nile. The results returned positive yesterday.

A 76-year-old Harford County woman hospitalized with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, was confirmed last week as the state's first West Nile victim this year. A Frederick County woman also may have West Nile, Anne Arundel officials said yesterday.

Last year, 36 cases of West Nile illness were detected among 800 people tested in Maryland. Seven died.

Across the country this year, more than 1,700 cases of West Nile have been reported and 31 deaths have been attributed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Fewer than 1 percent of those infected with the West Nile virus develop serious illness. State health officials have encouraged Marylanders to use insect repellent and rid their properties of standing water where mosquitoes breed.

Sorenson, a hand therapist for a Bowie surgeon, has been kept out of work and will learn in three to six months whether she will regain movement in her right leg, Francken said.

Sorenson said she "can see some contractions in my calf muscle and that's about it." Her left leg is also weak, she said.

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