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Midwest flood water is a West Nile concern

A mailbox pokes out of the water in downtown La Grange, Missouri, June 22, 2008. (UPI Photo/Mark Cowan)
A mailbox pokes out of the water in downtown La Grange, Missouri, June 22, 2008. (UPI Photo/Mark Cowan) | License Photo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., June 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. government forecasts Southern California counties are hot spots for the West Nile virus this summer, but Midwest flood water is also a concern.

The Midwest will have an influx of mosquitoes that don't transmit West Nile, but as flood waters recede and pockets of water become stagnant, it will become a harbor for mosquitoes that carry the virus, Ralph Williams of Purdue University said in a statement.

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There is no West Nile vaccine for people. Mosquitoes spread the virus when they bite an infected bird and then bite a person.

More than 1.5 million people have been infected with West Nile in the United States since if first appeared on the continent nine years ago, and about 300,000 have had West Nile fever.

Lyle Petersen -- director of the division of vector borne diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- said mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus often breed around people's homes in gutters, rain barrels and bird baths.

One summer, Peterson walked outside to get his mail and within hours was bitten by a mosquito and began to feel West Nile symptoms -- fever, headaches, body aches -- within hours.

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'It's not a very mild illness," Petersen told CNN. "It will ruin your summer."

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