Health
Thursday, October 2, 2003
Seven new West Nile cases in Delaware
Seven additional Delaware residents tested positive for West Nile virus during September, bringing the state's total human cases to eight. Five of the residents live in New Castle County, with the remaining three from Kent County. Last October, a Kent County man was diagnosed as the state’s first West Nile virus case ever. West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Humans infected with West Nile virus typically have only mild symptoms similar to a mild flu, if they show any signs at all. Rarely do humans infected with the disease experience sudden onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion and muscle weakness. Individuals with these symptoms should see their physician immediately. As of Sept. 24, 4,827 human cases have been reported nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . In 2002, 4,156 cases and 284 deaths were reported. West Nile virus first appeared in Delaware birds and horses in 2000. In 2002, 214 wild birds tested positive for the disease in Delaware, as did 32 horses and six mosquito pool samples. As of September 25, 2003, the Delaware Public Health Laboratory identified West Nile virus in 110 wild birds and 54 horses. There have been no human deaths in Delaware from the disease. Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH) advises residents to take common-sense precautions against insect bites. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors, applying insect repellent containing 50 percent or less DEET for adults and 30 percent or less DEET for children, and avoiding mosquito-infested areas or times of peak mosquito activity around dusk, dawn or throughout the evening. To reduce mosquito-breeding, people should drain or remove items that collect water, such as buckets, birdbaths, rain barrels, old tires, blocked rain gutters and unused swimming pools. For questions about West Nile virus in humans, and to report suspected human cases, call DPH at 888-295-5156. For questions about mosquito biology or control, call (302) 739-3493. To report sick or dead wild birds, call Mosquito Control between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. in New Castle County at (302) 836-2555, and in Kent or Sussex counties, call (302) 422-1512. For questions about animal health, call the Department of Agriculture at 1-800-282-8685 from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., or leave a message afterhours.