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DHSS Press Release



Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@state.de.us

Date: September 7, 2012
DHSS-92-2012





FIRST WEST NILE VIRUS DEATH IN DELAWARE


Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) confirmed two additional West Nile virus cases, including the state's first death from the disease.

A 76-year-old New Castle woman with West Nile virus infection and several underlying medical conditions died today. An 80-year-old Wilmington woman with West Nile virus was treated and released from the hospital on Wednesday. Tests conducted by the DPH Laboratory confirmed both West Nile virus cases on Sept. 4.

Although almost 2,000 cases have been reported so far this year in the US, Delaware now has three human cases. As of Sept. 4, there have been 87 deaths reported to the CDC. DPH reminds community members to protect themselves against West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, generally from spring to fall. Although nearly 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will not become ill and only a little less than 20 percent of those infected will develop West Nile fever, with mild symptoms (fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back and swollen lymph glands), one in 150 people infected 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.

"These are the first human cases of West Nile virus that were contracted in Delaware in 2012," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Division of Public Health Director. "The Division of Public Health wants people to know West Nile virus is in Delaware. It's tempting with the distractions of back-to-school and the end of summer to forget mosquito protection but it's more important now than ever."

To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, individuals should:

For further information, Delaware state government offers several West Nile virus resources: For medical providers, to report suspected cases or learn more about testing, call the DPH Bureau of Epidemiology at 1-888-295-5156.

To report high numbers of biting mosquitoes or other concerns, contact the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (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.





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