Health official says Milwaukee man died from West Nile earlier this year

Thursday, September 28th 2006, 10:32 am
By: News On 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Tests have confirmed that a Milwaukee man died this year from West Nile virus, the manager of disease control and prevention for the Milwaukee Health Department says.

But no further information about the victim was disclosed Wednesday, when the death was confirmed by the manager, Paul Biedrzycki.

West Nile is primarily a bird disease that spreads to humans when a mosquito bites an infected bird, becomes infected itself, and then bites people.

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services said Wednesday that there have been 17 human cases of the disease in the state this year. Five have taken place in Milwaukee County, according to Biedrzycki.

The first cases of the disease were reported in the state in 2002. The state said seven people had died of it in Wisconsin through 2005.

Most people infected with West Nile will not have any symptoms, but those who do become ill may develop a fever, headache and rash that lasts a few days, the department said. Older people are at risk for more severe symptoms or even death.

Nationally, 2,720 cases of human West Nile virus were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Sept. 26, including 87 deaths. Officials consider that an undercount, because there is often a delay in diagnosing cases and in transferring reports from states to the CDC.

The Milwaukee death is not included in the latest CDC figures.