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Doctors warn of West Nile virus symptoms

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 01 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 03 2012 05:27:16 AM CDT

One problem with West Nile virus is that many symptoms mimic a cold or flu.

SALISBURY TWP., Pa. -

We've told you every summer to watch out for the West Nile virus. But what exactly should you be watching out for?

The answer isn't easy.  The problem is that many symptoms of the West Nile virus mimic a cold or flu.  Doctors say if untreated some cases could end in brain damage.

We've all heard about places where mosquitoes with West Nile breed, but do you know the symptoms to watch out for?

"An individual should be suspicious of possible West Nile infection would be fever, headache, sometimes a rash," said Dr. Luther Rhodes, chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

These could also be symptoms of the flu.

So how do you tell the difference?

Dr. Rhodes says there are a couple other symptoms people should look out for.

"A serious West Nile infection would be an individual who is confused and who has leg weakness.," he said.

Rhodes says if that happens you need to get to the emergency room right away to be tested for the West Nile Virus.

In Pennsylvania many counties are listed as high risk areas for the virus.

The Lehigh Valley is a hot spot.  Dr. Rhodes says if you are bit by a mosquito, look out for the symptoms.

"Most West Nile infections fortunately are self limited, they do resolve. They come on like a bad bug for a couple of days and resolve on their own," said Dr. Rhodes.
 
Doctor Rhodes says that people 60 and over have a greater chance of developing neurological problems from the West Nile virus.