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Contra Costa Man Is Recovering From Bout With West Nile Virus

Health: Officials say risk of illness is low. Patient may have been infected by mosquito in Chicago.

September 19, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

The West Nile virus has been detected in a Contra Costa man who apparently was bitten by an infected mosquito in Chicago late last month, state health officials said Wednesday.

The unidentified man became ill on Sept. 4 and was hospitalized with encephalitis two days later, state Health Director Diana M. Bonita said.

The man, who is the second California resident to known to have contracted the disease, has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering at home, said Ken August, a spokesman for the state Department of Health Services.

The state's first case of West Nile was reported earlier this month and involved a young woman who lives in the southwestern part of Los Angeles County.

Another case identified in Los Angeles County surfaced a week ago: A middle-aged Texas man who authorities believe contracted the infection from a mosquito in his home state.

None of the victims was identified to protect their privacy.

August said the risk of any individual becoming ill from the virus is very low.

"For most Californians who are bitten by an infected mosquito, West Nile virus will cause no illness or symptoms at all," he said.

Although it is possible that there may be small pools of infected mosquitoes in the state, "our tests have found no evidence that the virus exists here," he said.

Less than 1% of the bites from infected mosquitoes can cause severe disease.

In any case, individuals can reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases by avoiding activity outside when mosquitoes are most active.

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