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West Nile Confirmed in Texas

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The nation's second human case of West Nile virus this year was confirmed in Texas on Wednesday.

In another development, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first diagnostic test for the disease.

A 73-year-old woman from Houston had West Nile-caused encephalitis but has recovered, said Rick Shallenberger of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

She is the second case confirmed by a lab test, following one reported Monday in South Carolina, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other states have probable cases awaiting lab results.

West Nile --- which first appeared in the United States in 1999, in New York --- swept across most of the country last year, infecting more than 4,100 people and killing 284. Officials are bracing for a season that could be even more deadly.

In Georgia, the virus has been found in 12 birds, one horse and two groups of mosquitoes this year.

The state has had more problems with a related disease called Eastern equine encephalitis.

It has infected 27 horses, five birds and a dog, mostly in South Georgia. A Glynn County man died from the disease in June, and many of the horses have died.

The West Nile test approved by the FDA detects antibodies to the virus. It was developed by PanBio, an Australian company. Commercial and government labs have been using similar tests, but the FDA approval of PanBio's test could make such tests more widely available.

Two others tests have been used experimentally since last month to screen donated blood for the virus. One of the tests uncovered an infected donation last week in a Texas woman who didn't have West Nile symptoms.

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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