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U.S. West Nile Death Toll Reaches 21

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WASHINGTON, Aug 28 (AFP) - West Nile virus has killed 21 people and infected 1442 in the United States this season, with reported infections doubling since the start of the week, health authorities said Thursday.

last year the virus killed 284.

The western state of Colorado has been the worst hit so far this summer, with six deaths and 635 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The midwestern state of Nebraska follows with four deaths and 190 people infected.

The southern state of Texas has reported two deaths, with infections rising to 190. Alabama has had two deaths and 14 current cases.

This is the first year in which deaths have occurred in Colorado or Nebraska since the appearance of the virus in the United States. It first emerged in New York in 1999.

The disease is usually transmitted by mosquito bites during the warm summer months. However, US authorities have confirmed transmissions through organ transplants and blood transfusions.

One in every five people infected develops symptoms of the disease, usually similar to that of a mild flu. In one case out of 150, the virus can cause potentially deadly meningitis.

Those most at risk are the elderly, or those with weak immune systems.



COPYRIGHT 2003 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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