A man in western Minnesota who was hospitalized late last month is the state's first case of West Nile virus, the Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday.
The man, who health officials didn't identify, is from Yellow Medicine County. He remains hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis.
Health officials said the virus is showing up later than usual, but August is usually peak season for West Nile.
David Neitzel, a health department epidemiologist specializing in diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks, said people who live in central and western Minnesota are most at risk.
"The type that really transmits most of the West Nile virus to people in Minnesota is most common out in farm country," Neitzel said.
Only one of the 51 types of mosquitoes found in Minnesota transmits West Nile. It can be identified by a white band on its nose.
Neitzel said the elderly are most at risk for becoming seriously ill from West Nile. Symptoms usually start with a headache and a high fever, he said.
"Some people develop a little bit of a rash, and in the worst cases, people will then go on to develop disorientation. They'll be out of it in a hurry and will need to be hospitalized," he said.
Health officials recommend using insect repellent containing DEET or an alternative. The mosquitoes carrying the virus are most active at dusk and dawn.