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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

September 12, 2003


Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department announced today that the state laboratory in Raleigh has confirmed that a Mecklenburg County man in his forties is hospitalized in stable condition with West Nile meningoencephalitis.

West Nile meningoencephalitis is very rare in humans and is similar to West Nile Encephalitis.  The symptoms also are very similar to West Nile virus (WNV).  The symptoms of WNV include fever, headache, body aches and, occasionally, a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen glands. West Nile meningoencephalitis may present more severe symptoms than WNV.

This is the second case of West Nile virus that has been reported in Mecklenburg County  in the past year.  WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes. Wild birds serve as natural hosts for the viruses. Mosquitoes bite the birds, which enables the mosquitoes to transmit the viruses to humans and animals.  A person can't catch the diseases from another person or an infected animal. Horses can be vaccinated against WNV, but there is no vaccine for humans.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of people infected with WNV will have no symptoms.  People may not know they have been infected because the incubation period is between 3 and 15 days.

The best protection from West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis or other mosquito-borne diseases continues to be protecting yourself from mosquito bites.

· Stay inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
· Use repellants containing DEET and follow directions closely.
· Wear long sleeves and long pants.
· Eliminate standing water sources that may be potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

To speed the Health Department's response to consumer complaints about mosquitoes, the Department has stopped collecting and testing dead birds for West Nile virus. The Health Department is now collecting and testing mosquitoes for the disease.

For questions or complaints about mosquitoes, Mecklenburg County residents may call the Health Department's Public Health Pest Management Program at 704-336-5101.

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