The islands’ first case of West Nile fever was confirmed recently when a man who was hospitalized with viral encephalitis in August was diagnosed with the West Nile virus. The disease has flu-like symptoms and can be deadly. Host animals are usually birds but mosquitoes can transmit the disease. No other cases are suspected at this time. The Western Hemisphere’s first occurrence of the virus was discovered in New York in 1999. There were nine deaths in New York and New Jersey in 1999 and 2000; this year one death has occurred in the U.S., in Atlanta. The best protection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.