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Published: Thursday, 10/5/2006

West Nile virus strikes Hillsdale-area resident

HILLSDALE - A Hillsdale-area resident was diagnosed with West Nile virus, bringing to 36 the total number of cases in Michigan of the infectious disease.

The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency confirmed the county's first case of West Nile this year, but John Robertson, director of health promotion, provided no further information.

West Nile virus comes from the bite of an infected mosquito, usually Culex pipiens, a species that generally prefers feeding on birds over humans. The disease has been endemic in Michigan since 2002, when the state had 644 cases, including 51 deaths.

Although three Michiganders have died this year from the virus - all in the Detroit area - West Nile more frequently causes a mild flu-like illness. Many people are infected and show no symptoms.

Ohio has had 29 West Nile cases this year, with two fatalities - one in Henry County and one in Cuyahoga County. West Nile virus will remain a risk in Michigan and Ohio until a hard frost kills the mosquito population.

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