Fewer West Nile cases this year

(February 20, 2004) - (Little Rock-AP) -- The Arkansas Department of Health says there were fewer human cases of West Nile virus last year than in 2002. The department reported 26 human cases of the virus last year with no deaths. There were 43 human cases -- including five deaths -- the previous year. During 2003, there were seven human cases of West Nile in Jefferson County, four in Pulakski, two each in Miller, Arkansas, Pope and Union counties and one each in Benton, Cleburne, Columbia, Drew, Johnson, Sevier and Bradley counties. The department reported birds testing positive for the virus in 48 of Arkansas' 75 counties. The disease is spread by mosquitos infected with the virus. The elderly, the very young and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to infection.