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State Searching for Signs of West Nile Virus

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RALEIGH, N.C. — While no cases of human infection from

West Nilevirus

have turned up in North Carolina, health officials are usingseveral methods to find signs of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said since thefirst case of the virus appeared in New York in 1999, 34 stateshave found evidence of West Nile in birds, horses or mosquitoes.

State health officials are using the dead bird surveillanceprogram, in which people are asked to call a local healthdepartment if they see dead birds.

Officials also are trapping mosquitoes across the state andtesting the insects for the presence of the virus. Dry weather haskept mosquito populations down.

There are also "sentinel" flocks of chickens in a few easternNorth Carolina counties that are tested every two weeks for thevirus.

State health officials said the threat of West Nile virus is minimal.Less than one percent of people exposed to the virus will actually develop a severe case.

But it helps to protect yourself while outdoors, especially at parks and other wooded areas. Insect repellents containingDEET are recommended.

Human symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Health officials said symptoms may not show up for two weeks from the time a person is bitten.

There is no vaccine for the West Nile virus. If you find a dead bird and would like to report it, you can call the state health department toll-free at (877) 790-1747.

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