A man from southwestern Minnesota has contracted the state's first human case of West Nile virus this year, the Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday.
Health officials said the Murray County man is recovering. They urged people to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
July and August are considered the high risk months for West Nile virus, which can be life-threatening, said David Neitzel, a health department epidemiologist specializing in diseases carried by mosquitoes. The state's seen 535 cases, including 16 fatalities, since the virus was first found in Minnesota in 2002.
Using mosquito repellents while outdoors during dusk and dawn can help prevent the disease, Neitzel said.
Most people bitten by a West Nile-infected mosquito develop West Nile fever, the less severe form of disease, or else fight off the virus without any symptoms, the department said. About 1 out of 150 people develop a central nervous system disease, which can be fatal.
Symptoms can include headache, high fever, rash, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, convulsions, paralysis and coma. Symptoms usually begin three to 15 days after being bitten, health officials said.
People with weakened immune systems and those who live in western and central Minnesota counties are most at risk, because those areas usually have more of the type of mosquito that carries the virus.