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Crows Test Positive for West Nile Virus

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LINCOLN, Neb., Jun 05, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Health officials in Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois are stepping up mosquito abatement efforts after dead crows tested positive for West Nile virus.

The Nebraska medical department reported 174 cases of the virus last year with eight deaths and officials Wednesday warned the infection is "now part of the Nebraska landscape." More than 4,000 cases were recorded nationally last year with 277 deaths.

The infected crow was found in Lancaster County late last month, a full month earlier than the state's first West Nile case was discovered last year.

"We are taking it real seriously," Scott Holmes, Lincoln-Lancaster County manager of environmental public health, told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Public health officials in central Iowa confirmed two dead crows were infected with the West Nile virus and a dead crow tested positive in Illinois last month. Communities in Illinois, which led the nation with more than 800 human cases and 64 deaths last year, have increased budgets to fight mosquitoes this summer.

People are being asked to dispose of all standing water on their property that can become a breeding ground for infected mosquitoes. The virus is spread to humans though the bite of a mosquito that has sucked blood from an infected bird. Only about one in 140 people will exhibit symptoms such as fever and headache.

Children and people over 50 are the most vulnerable.

In the most serious cases, victims can develop life-threatening complications like meningitis, encephalitis, convulsions or paralysis.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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