Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: September 13, 2012
Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) confirmed two new human West Nile virus cases today, bringing the state total to five, including last week's fatality. Five human cases is the second largest yearly total in state history; surpassed only by 2003 in which there were 17 West Nile Virus cases.
A 73-year-old Newark man remains hospitalized in critical condition, and a 46-year-old Harrington man was treated and released from the hospital. The Newark man contracted the disease in Delaware; the 46-year-old Harrington man may have contracted it in Maryland or Washington, DC.
Since 2002, Delaware has recorded a total of 28 cases of West Nile, with three deaths. Nationwide, since early September, the CDC has recorded 1,993 cases and 87 deaths, with 70 percent of those cases reported in six states (Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Michigan). Through the first week of September, this is the highest number of West Nile cases reported to the CDC since the agency started tracking the virus in 1999.
West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, generally from spring to fall. Nearly 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will not become ill. About 20 percent of those infected will develop West Nile fever, with mild flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back and swollen lymph glands), and one in 150 people infected will develop severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis).
Symptoms of severe West Nile virus infection include headache, high fever, stiff neck, and/or tremors and muscle weakness. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. Anyone who experiences any of these severe symptoms should seek medical help immediately. Symptoms may progress to stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, paralysis and possibly death.
"Prevention is always important, but now that Delaware is seeing the second largest number of cases in state history, it is vital," said Dr. Awele Madukah-Ezeh, DPH Medical Director. "A warm fall means mosquitoes live longer and have more time to bite. The Delaware Division of Public Health urges taking a few simple steps to protect you and your family, like using insect repellent and draining any standing water near your home."
To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, individuals should:
Mosquito Control Efforts
Delaware's mosquito control season runs from mid-March through mid-October and sometimes until early November, depending upon weather conditions. During late summer, the Delaware Mosquito Control Section in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) sprays for larval and adult mosquitoes and performs field applications throughout the state about five days per week.
Mosquito Control also conducts statewide larval or adult mosquito population surveillance to determine where to apply larvicides or adulticides for control purposes. Insecticides are applied by hand, backpack sprayers, spray pump trucks, aerosol spray trucks ("foggers"), helicopter, or fixed-wing aircraft. In addition to surveillance activities, the Mosquito Control Section encourages residents to report intolerable numbers of mosquitoes in their neighborhoods to help direct where control efforts are needed.
"In directing our control efforts to West Nile virus, Mosquito Control focuses on natural or man-made containers holding standing water for four or more consecutive days, primarily in urban/suburban areas or other developed locations, because this is where the primary carrier of West Nile, the common house mosquito, breeds," said Dr. William Meredith, Delaware Mosquito Control Section Administrator. "To support control efforts, we encourage home and business owners to drain any standing water on their property that could serve as mosquito-breeding habitat," Dr. Meredith added.
Where spraying is needed is determined on a daily basis through surveillance and field testing. For example, Dr. Meredith noted the spray schedule for yesterday and today, Sept. 10 and 11, 2012:
"Mosquito Control sprayed downstate for larval mosquito control in the Milton and Lewes areas, and for adult mosquito control in Frederica and near Magnolia, Houston, Farmington, Lincoln, Marydel, Harbeson, Long Neck, Angola, and Millsboro. Upstate, the Section sprayed for adult mosquito control in Smyrna, Townsend and near Hartly. Larval and adult mosquito population surveillance efforts are ongoing in populated areas in New Castle County north of the C&D Canal, and, depending upon findings, additional upstate spray work may be added tonight or tomorrow."
Mosquito Control also sprays areas where human (or avian) West Nile cases have occurred if there is a large enough local mosquito population, and based on Mosquito Control surveillance and field tests, and reports from area residents.
The public is encouraged to report high numbers of biting mosquitoes or other concerns, by contacting DNREC Mosquito Control Section field offices:
Calls will be answered by staff from Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Callers after business hours or during weekends or holidays should leave a message giving their name, phone number, address and a brief description of their need or problem.
For more information on Mosquito Control, call 302-739-9917 or visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Services/Pages/MosquitoSection.aspx.
For more information about West Nile virus in horses, contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).
For more general information on West Nile Virus, go to www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.