October 29, 2003
TEST RESULTS CONFIRM HUMAN CASE OF WEST NILE ENCEPHALITIS
Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department announced today that the state laboratory in Raleigh has confirmed a human case of West Nile encephalitis in a Mecklenburg County resident. The patient, in her 70s, became ill in September and was hospitalized with a headache and high fever. She has since been released from the hospital.
West Nile encephalitis is the most severe form of West Nile infection. Symptoms of this type of infection include severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, convulsions, paralysis, and coma. This is the third case of West Nile virus infection in a Mecklenburg County resident so far this year. The two previous cases were reported in September. Both patients have recovered from their illnesses.
Most humans and animals that are infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. About 20 percent 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 for only a few days and do not have any long-term health effects.
Cooler weather has slowed the activity of mosquitoes in our area, but mosquitoes won't be completely gone until the first freeze. 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.