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Most people who contract the mosquito-borne pathogen West Nile virus are asymptomatic, and even those who do get sick usually experience flu-like symptoms that resolve on their own. In a small percentage of those infected, the symptoms can be much worse: swelling of the brain and permanent neurological damage among them. Now, the Washington Post reports there are signs that the virus could be getting worse and evidence of a possible cover-up in the form of a “recalled” email:
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Last month, Leis asked a Food and Drug Administration scientist who studies the genetics of the virus whether a new, more virulent strain was circulating.
“You are absolutely right . . . that new genetic variants of WNV might have appeared this year,” the scientist replied in an Oct. 23 e-mail obtained by The Washington Post. The scientist continued that “it is not easy to correlate” the new mutations with any specific type of brain damage.