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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

October 15, 2002


Charlotte, NC - So far, test results on five of 34 pre-transfusion blood samples being tested for West Nile virus have been negative. The tests are being conducted in connection with Mecklenburg County's first human case of West Nile virus.

Earlier this month, blood tests confirmed that a patient admitted to the hospital with a fever and a viral syndrome had tested positive for West Nile virus.  The patient had received a blood transfusion weeks earlier during surgery, raising the possibility of a transfusion-related West Nile infection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mecklenburg County Health Department are testing blood products used during the patient's surgery to determine whether this human case of West Nile virus is-or is not-related to the blood transfusion. 

CDC epidemiologists say their next step is to follow-up with blood collection agencies in order to contact donors to be re-sampled.  The CDC considers this an on-going investigation.

The CDC, local health departments and other agencies continue to investigate reports that 15 patients in 10 states were diagnosed with West Nile virus after receiving blood products. These 15 patients all live in areas with active West Nile virus, and the method of transmission may have been mosquitoes rather than blood products.

The first human case of West Nile in North Carolina was confirmed by state laboratory tests on September 18.  That patient was an 80-year-old man from Vance County. So far this year, there have been 2,946 human cases of West Nile and 160 deaths in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Test results this year have confirmed West Nile virus in 34 dead birds and in one mosquito pool collected in Mecklenburg County.

Those in the highest risk groups -- people over 50 years of age and those with weakened immune systems -- should take special precautions 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. 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

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