The summer heat wave has spurred a jump in West Nile virus, with nearly 600 human cases reported nationwide in 2006.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention say this will probably be the worst season for the mosquito-borne disease in three years.

West Virginia reported its first human case since 2003, yesterday.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department didn't release details about the Kanawha County victim, but a state Department of Health and Human Resources spokesman said the man is over 50.

Mosquitoes can catch the virus by feeding on infected birds and then transmit it to people through bites.

Although most people infected with West Nile don't become ill, some can develop a a serious infection of the brain or spinal cord tissue.

Symptoms include unexplained fever, headache and seizures. The disease is fatal in seven to ten percent of cases and the death rate is higher for older patients.

The best way to avoid contracting the virus is to use mosquito repellent containing DEET, to wear long-sleeved clothing outdoors and to rid property of standing water.

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