People are warned to protect against mosquito bites after Broome County Health officials confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in two residents.

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The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.  Officials say most people infected do not become ill but if they do, the virus can cause headaches and fever, body aches and occasionally, a skin rash or swollen glands. In severe cases, people find they get a sudden onset of headache, fever, stiff neck and muscle weakness.  West Nile can even cause altered mental status, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, inflammation of the brain, brain membrane and spinal cord or coma.  Most people with West Nile generally recover and death is extremely rare.

Health officials have not commented on the severity of the illness in the two infected residents.

Given the especially wet spring and summer, keeping mosquitoes under control has been a problem with one of the primary defenses being the elimination of standing water, which has been difficult this year.

Besides eliminating mosquito breeding pools, people are encouraged to use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and make sure screens are in place in windows and in good condition to avoid mosquito bites.

For more information on EPA approved mosquito repellent go to www.epa.gov/insect-repellents and for information on West Nile Virus go to www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.