The Department of Health is testing people meeting criteria established collegially with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those criteria include testing blood and/or spinal fluid samples from people with a fever greater than 100 degrees and muscle weakness and altered mental status and with elevated levels of protein in their spinal fluid. Together, these symptoms are compatible with encephalitis, which can be caused by a number of viruses, including West Nile. Only a West Nile test can confirm or rule out West Nile virus infection. One should not assume that just because someone is being tested for West Nile they have the virus.
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