Bartlesville man tests positive for West Nile

Thursday, August 29th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A 69-year-old Bartlesville man has tested positive for the West Nile virus, the first human case of the disease confirmed in Oklahoma.

State health officials said last week that they suspected the man, as well as a 12-year-old Tulsa boy, had the potentially deadly virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the man's infection Wednesday. Further tests on the boy are pending.

The CDC's Web site said Wednesday that Oklahoma had two human cases of West Nile, but state health officials could not confirm whether the second case involved the Tulsa boy.

The names of the two people have not been released. Both victims are recovering, health officials said.

State epidemiologist Dr. Mike Crutcher said some tests for the virus can be conducted within days. But results from the CDC take longer.

``The CDC is the only lab that we have access to that does the confirmatory testing,'' he said. ``With the situation in the U.S. right now _ with all of the cases being suspected _ they're just being swamped with cases being done.''

Nationwide, 24 people have died of West Nile virus this year. That includes one death in Texas and eight in Louisiana.

There have been 480 human cases reported in the United States this year.

The virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can infect people, horses, birds and some other animals.

Most people who become infected will have either no symptoms or mild ones, but some may contract encephalitis _ an inflammation of the brain that can lead to death.

Crutcher said he believes the Bartlesville man was exposed to the virus during a trip last month to the East Coast.