Carroll woman's death is linked to West Nile

October 03, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare and Jennifer McMenamin | Mary Gail Hare and Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

A 77-year-old Sykesville woman has died of a West Nile virus-related illness, becoming the first county resident ever and the fourth Maryland resident this year whose death has been linked to the mosquito-spread disease, county and state health officials said yesterday.

An 89-year-old Finksburg woman also has tested positive for the virus, and doctors have said that her prognosis is poor, said Larry L. Leitch, director of the Carroll County Health Department.

The Sykesville woman was admitted Sept. 14 to Carroll County General Hospital with symptoms of the virus, which is spread to humans through infected mosquitoes.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Friday's editions incorrectly stated the gender of a person from Queen Anne's County who died last month of a West Nile virus-related illness. That person was a man.

She died at the Westminster hospital Saturday and hospital tests confirmed late Tuesday that her death was caused by the virus, Leitch said.

The victim, who had been bitten by a mosquito, suffered gastrointestinal symptoms associated with the disease and became progressively worse. She developed encephalitis, which caused brain swelling, Leitch said.

The Finksburg woman was admitted Sept. 10 to Carroll County General Hospital and was transferred yesterday to a nursing home, where she is living on a ventilator.

"The state lab has to confirm both of these instances, but the hospital lab, which we consider to be very accurate, confirmed both cases," Leitch said. "We are confident in saying this is West Nile."

Leitch said he expects results from the state lab tests in both cases early next week.

Twenty-three human West Nile cases - including 15 confirmed and eight probable instances - have been reported in Maryland this year.

That number takes into account three fatalities confirmed by state testing, including a 66-year-old Queen Anne's County woman whose West Nile-related death last month was confirmed yesterday by state health department officials.

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