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Four more people in Massachusetts diagnosed with West Nile virus
By Associated Press, 9/6/2002 14:58BOSTON — Four more people in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with the West Nile virus, bringing the state total to six this year, state health officials said Friday.
One of the four, an 86-year-old Boston man, was still in the hospital. His condition was not immediately disclosed, but officials said he has encephalitis and has been hospitalized Sept. 1.
Three people have returned home and are doing well, including a 74-year-old Michigan man, who may have contracted the disease in his home state. The others diagnosed were a 55-year-old Revere woman and a 50-year-old Medford man. Health department investigators also were exploring if he may have picked up the virus on a recent visit to Maine.
Officials did not release any names.
Earlier this summer, an 89-year-old Peabody woman and a 38-year-old Needham woman were reported as having the disease. The former is in fair condition at a Salem hospital and the latter, who is believed to have been infected while traveling in Missouri, has recovered.
"There is so much virus activity in Massachusetts right now, we are not surprised," said Roseanne Pawelec, Department of Public Health spokeswoman. "People just need to be cautious over the next several weeks."
Public health officials expect more human West Nile virus cases before the end of the season, since current weather conditions are favorable for increased mosquito activity. The infection primarily attacks birds and is transmitted by mosquitoes.
This year, 854 human cases were reported in 27 states and District of Columbia. 43 of them died, none in Massachusetts. In addition to humans, 406 birds, 31 mosquito collections and one llama in Massachusetts have tested positive for West Nile.
In 2001, there were three confirmed cases in Massachusetts, with one death.