State and local health officials are issuing a cautionary note about West Nile: don’t over-react to news that preliminary tests indicate an Altoona boy could have the virus. Polk County health director Dr. Carolyn Beverly says there’s no need to panic, it’s just a suspected case, not a confirmed case. Beverly’s office received a note that was sent home from school with the boy’s fellow students.Beverly says the letter stated that the child had West Nile virus, and that is not correct. Beverly says it’s not a confirmed case until the boy’s blood is tested at either a University of Iowa or Centers for Disease Control lab and those results show the presence of the virus.Beverly says school officials probably thought it best to notify parents, although West Nile is not a contagious disease spread person-to-person, but is only spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes. A spokesman for Southeast Polk schools denies that the letter Beverly has seen exists or that any school official has any knowledge of the boy’s case.
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