Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: June 25, 2015
DOVER (June 25, 2015) - A 6-year-old Sussex County girl was briefly hospitalized with West Nile Virus (WNV) and is now recovering at home. The case is the first human WNV case reported since 2013. The mosquito-borne illness can become serious and the Division of Public Health reminds people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes, generally from spring to fall. Although nearly 80 percent of people infected with WNV 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 WNV 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.
"This new human case is a reminder that West Nile virus is still active in Delaware," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Division of Public Health Director. "It's tempting with the distractions of summer fun to forget to protect you and your loved ones from insect bites. These bites can cause much more serious health problems than just itching and discomfort."
Mosquitoes can also carry Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and several other diseases that cause brain inflammation (encephalitis) and can be fatal to humans and animals. To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, individuals should:
In Delaware, there were no reported human WNV cases in 2014, three cases in 2013, and nine cases in 2012 with one fatality. To report suspected cases of human WNV, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 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 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 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 DNREC Mosquito Control, call 302-739-9917 or visit dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Services/Pages/MosquitoSection.aspx.
For more information about WNV in horses, contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).
For more general information on WNV, visit 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.