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West Nile-Tainted Breast Milk Likely Infected Baby, CDC Says

October 04, 2002|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Federal health officials said Thursday that a Michigan infant has the West Nile virus and probably got it from the breast milk of his infected mother.

The child is healthy and his mother is recovering, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The CDC said it was virtually certain the virus came from breast milk, although there is no way to be sure.

Doctors stressed that breast milk is the most healthful food for babies and that mothers shouldn't quit nursing because of West Nile fears.

Last week, when the case was being investigated, the CDC urged new mothers with the virus to talk with their doctors about whether to continue breast-feeding.

West Nile is rare in infants because they spend little time outdoors and because the virus is usually spread by mosquito bites.

The 40-year-old Michigan mother gave birth Sept. 2, and she received a blood transfusion that day and the next. She went home with her baby Sept. 4, only to be hospitalized on Sept. 17 for three days.

Doctors later confirmed she had West Nile.

It's not clear how the mother became infected, but it may have been from the blood, the CDC said. She and another patient received blood from a common donor, and remaining blood samples from that donor have shown signs of contamination.

The virus has infected 2,530 people in 32 states so far this year and killed 125, the CDC said.

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