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DHMH Press Releases : West Nile Virus Detected in Maryland Resident

West Nile Virus Detected in Maryland Resident

Marylanders reminded that simple steps can reduce risk


BALTIMORE (August 28, 2014)  The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today announced the first confirmed case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Maryland this year. The infected individual is an adult who lives in the National Capital Region. In addition, WNV has also been detected in a horse, also in the National Capital Region, and in mosquito pools collected in Harford, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Talbot Counties. A mosquito pool is a group of mosquitoes collected at one of several trap sites across the State.

 “A case of WNV is not unexpected," said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. "Marylanders are reminded that they can take basic steps to reduce the risk of getting infected."

 Measures people can take to protect themselves include:

  • Avoid areas of high mosquito activity.
  • Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats when concerned about mosquito exposure.
  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package directions.

Most individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. People that do develop illness will usually have any combination of fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. These symptoms generally appear two to 14 days following the bite of an infected mosquito. Less than one percent of persons exposed to the virus will develop more severe infections, with symptoms such as headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. In rare instances, WNV can be fatal. Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of developing more severe disease. People who are immunocompromised may also be at high risk of WNV infection.

Residents are urged to monitor their own yards and gardens for standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Small amounts of water in a discarded can or container will support dozens of mosquitoes. To eliminate mosquito-breeding areas:

  • Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely.
  • Remove old tires or drill drainage holes in tires used as playground equipment.
  • Turn over wading pools, wheelbarrows, wagons and carts when not in use. Flush water from bottom of plant holders twice a week.
  • Replace water in birdbaths at least twice a week.
  • Turn garbage can lids upside down and make sure trash receptacles are empty of water.
  • Fix dripping faucets.
  • Aerate ornamental pools and water gardens or stock with fish and use a circulating filter system.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will spray all participating communities within a one-mile radius of where the person resides, and continue routine spray operations in all other participating communities throughout the state. 

Although birds are not routinely tested for WNV in Maryland, sick or injured birds can be reported to an appropriate local wildlife rehabilitator. Residents can call 1-877-463-6497 for a list of licensed rehabilitators or visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources web site at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/rehab.asp.  Detailed instructions on what to do when you find a sick or dead bird can be found at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/west-nile.aspx .

The number of human WNV cases in Maryland has varied over the years. The peak years of human activity occurred in 2003 and 2012, with 73 and 47 WNV cases reported statewide, respectively. In 2013, there were 16 reported cases of WNV infection in Maryland.

DHMH provides weekly updates of WNV detected in humans, mosquitoes and horses in Maryland on its website. For each case, DHMH indicates whether the infected individual is a child or an adult and the region of the state where the individual resides. The case announced today will be reflected in the report posted on Wednesday, September 3rd

The reports will be available each Wednesday at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/west-nile.aspx.

For additional information on West Nile virus, visit:

 

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