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Doctors: Condition of a patient's eyes may help diagnose West Nile

CHICAGO (AP) _ The condition of a patient's eyes may be one way to diagnose West Nile virus, doctors at Northwestern University say.

In the February issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, the doctors described a patient who complained of seeing dots _ known as ``floaters'' _ in one eye along with fatigue, a headache and a low fever. The 62-year-old Chicago woman had been suffering from the symptoms for two weeks.

The doctors found tiny lesions in her eyes and other abnormalities, and prescribed the standard treatment. When the patient's vision worsened and fever increased, doctors ran a series of blood tests and found the West Nile virus. Her eyesight returned to normal when she was cured of the virus.

The case suggests it may be possible to diagnose West Nile virus by examining the eyes of patients, the doctors wrote.

The United States recorded more than 3,900 cases of the virus and 256 deaths from it last year. The mosquito-borne virus causes fevers and aches and can lead to potentially fatal swelling of the brain.
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