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First '03 W. Nile Case In State Suspected

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California health officials announced Thursday that a 47-year-old Alameda County woman has been hospitalized with a probable case of West Nile virus, but the woman apparently didn't get the disease while in the state.

The woman is believed to have been exposed to the mosquito-borne virus in July during a trip to Colorado, where 247 West Nile virus cases and six deaths have been reported already this year.

The woman is suffering from "acute flaccid paralysis," a rare neurologic syndrome characterized by severe muscle weakness in the legs, health officials said.

No other West Nile cases have been reported in the state this year.

California health director Diana M. Bontá said in a prepared statement that the state is ready for the arrival of the virus sometime this year.

Last year, California reported only one human case of the virus, in Los Angeles County, and the woman fully recovered.

All told, there have been more than 4,000 cases of West Nile infection, including 277 deaths, in the United States.

So far this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 446 cases of West Nile virus, and 10 deaths. All but eight states and the District of Columbia have recorded cases.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are infected when they feed on infected birds. For more information on the virus or to report dead birds, visit

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