Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: September 9, 2013
The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the state's first human West Nile virus case; a woman in her early 20s living in New Castle County tested positive for West Nile virus on Sept. 4.
DPH reminds community members to protect themselves against West Nile virus. Although last year Delaware reported 9 cases of WNV infection, during the past 5 years Delaware has reported between 0 and 1 case per year. West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes when they bite, generally from spring to fall. Nearly 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will not become ill. The CDC estimates that only 20 percent of those infected will develop West Nile fever, with mild symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back and swollen lymph glands. Many cases likely go unreported.
"Delawareans must continue to be vigilant in protecting themselves from mosquito bites," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Delaware Public Health Director. "Delaware may very well see more cases that are contracted inside the state. Public Health is urging people to be careful and also asking medical providers to be familiar with West Nile symptom management.When in doubt, medical providers should test for the disease."
One in 150 people infected develop severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) with 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.
To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, residents 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 Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 1-888-295-5156.
To report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes or other concerns, contact the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section field offices:
Calls will be answered by staff from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 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 Delaware 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.