September 3, 2003
TESTS CONFIRM FIRST HUMAN CASE OF WEST NILE FEVER
IN MECKLENBURG COUNTY RESIDENT
Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department announced today that the state laboratory in Raleigh has confirmed the first Mecklenburg County case of West Nile fever, a milder form of West Nile infection. The patient, in her 30's, was never hospitalized, but went to the doctor complaining of symptoms. A total of five people around North Carolina have been diagnosed with West Nile infections so far this year.
Most humans and animals that are infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. About 20% of the people who have the virus will develop West Nile fever. The symptoms of West Nile fever are also fairly mild. These include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen glands. These symptoms usually last only for a few days and do not have any long-term health effects.
"This development shows that the virus is present in our community, and residents need to continue taking precautions," said Dr. Stephen Keener, medical director of the Mecklenburg County Health Department. "Luckily the Mecklenburg County person who was infected is young and healthy, and the disease was mild. Older people, especially those with compromised immune systems need to be particularly careful to prevent mosquito bites."
The best protection from West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis or other mosquito-borne diseases continues to be protecting yourself from mosquito bites.
To do so:
· 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.
The Health Department ended collection and testing of dead birds for West Nile virus for 2003 last week to focus on collection and testing of mosquitoes. Ending collection of dead birds will also speed the Department's response to consumer complaints about mosquitoes.
For questions or complaints about mosquitoes, Mecklenburg County residents may call the Health Department's Public Health Pest Management Program at 704-336-5101.