September 18, 2002
STATE'S FIRST HUMAN CASE OF WEST NILE VIRUS
IS REMINDER TO CONTINUE PERSONAL PROTECTION
Charlotte, NC - News of North Carolina's first human case of West Nile virus should serve as a reminder to us in Mecklenburg County to remain vigilant in our efforts to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and eliminate potential mosquito breeding grounds.
Dr. Stephen Keener, Health Department medical director, says it is not surprising that we have a human case of West Nile in the state. Six human samples from Mecklenburg County have also been tested for West Nile. Five of those samples have tested negative; tests on another sample are still pending.
Test results released from the state lab confirmed North Carolina's first human case of West Nile virus. The state Health Director says an 80-year old man from Vance County, NC was diagnosed with encephalitis after being exposed to West Nile virus. It is believed that the man -- who is at home recovering -- contracted the disease here in North Carolina.
So far this year, 34 birds have tested positive for West Nile in Mecklenburg County. In 2002, the Health Department's Public Health Pest Management Program has sent 81 dead birds to the state lab for testing.
The disease can be spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. The Health Department encourages people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and eliminate standing water on their property.
The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk for developing complications from West Nile virus. Those in these highest risk groups should take particular caution to limit their exposure to mosquito bites. Long sleeves and long pants should be worn outdoors, as should mosquito repellants containing DEET. Activity during the early morning and at dusk should be limited, as this is when mosquitoes are most active, too. Property owners should keep outdoor water containers like buckets, old tires or animal drinking bowls emptied or full of fresh water in order to keep mosquitoes from breeding in them.
For more information about protecting yourself and eliminating mosquito-breeding areas on your property, log onto the Health Department' s Web site
www.meckhealth.org. Look for the "Skeeter Defeater" logo.
To report mosquito problems, call the Health Department's Public Health Pest Management Program at 704-336-5101. To report dead birds call the Department's dead bird hotline at 704-353-0350.