Brown County may have its first case of West Nile virus, but that won't be known for sure until the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department receives a report from a state lab in Arlington, local health department official Jody Armstrong said Tuesday.

Armstrong said a local physician faxed a lab report Tuesday morning indicating a patient here has the illness, but Armstrong said Health Department officials can neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of that report until they hear from the state lab.

"It's suspected but not confirmed," Armstrong, who is the public health preparedness and emergency coordinator, said. She said she anticipates hearing from the state lab by Friday.

Armstrong said the ill patient, who lives in the eastern part of Brown County, went in to see the physician about a week and a half ago and has been admitted to Brownwood Regional Medical Center.

"Most cases go away because your immune system fights it," Armstrong said.

According to an article published earlier at www.brownwoodtx.com by Dr. Narendra Nigalye, a member of the medical staff at Brownwood Regional Medical Center:

West Nile virus’ rampant spread across the U.S. has dominated the media in recent weeks. Common symptoms of West Nile virus include:

• Fever

• Headache

• Body aches

• Skin rash on trunk of body

• Swollen lymph glands

According to the CDC, west nile virus infection in humans is rare. Approximately 20 percent of the people who become infected will develop symptoms of WNV. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected female mosquito. The mosquitoes acquire the virus through biting infected birds. According to the CDC, the virus is not directly transmitted between humans.

Specific treatment is determined by an individual’s doctor based on age, health history, extent of the disease, and tolerance for specific medications or therapies. People who develop the more severe form of the disease may require more aggressive treatment.

No vaccine currently exists to prevent West Nile virus in humans. The CDC recommends taking the following steps to avoid mosquito bites and the virus:

• Apply insect repellent containing DEET when you’re outdoors. According to the CDC, repellents containing a higher concentration of active ingredient (such as DEET) provide longer-lasting protection. (If you spray your clothing, there’s no need to spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.)

• When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants treated with repellents containing permethrin or DEET since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. (Don't directly apply permethrin-containing repellents to exposed skin.)

• Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening – peak hours for mosquito bites.

ª Limit the number of places available for mosquitoes to lay their eggs by eliminating standing water sources around your home, such as bird baths.

To maximize your protection from insect repellent, remember:

• Sweating, perspiration, or water may require product reapplication.

• Use enough repellent to cover exposed skin or clothing; heavy application isn't necessary to achieve protection.