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Delaware Health Alert Network #233

July 30, 2010 3:07 pm

Health Advisory

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) would like to alert the medical community of evidence of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Delaware. While there have been no confirmed cases in humans in Delaware this season, as of July 30, 2010, two cases have been confirmed in chickens as part of Delaware’s sentinel surveillance system.

Although WNV is known to cause a mild illness in humans, there is a likelihood of some individuals developing severe illness. It is therefore advisable to consider WNV in a differential diagnosis.

WNV in Delaware

West Nile virus first appeared in Delaware birds and horses in 2000. Delaware's first confirmed human case of West Nile virus occurred in 2002. In 2003, 17 human cases were confirmed, including two deaths. While there were no reported human cases in 2004 2006, and 2009, two cases were confirmed in 2005 and one in 2007 and 2008.

DPH Diagnostic Testing

The DPH Laboratory (DPHL) performs WNV testing for humans, birds and horses. Methods include antibody testing, as well as PCR and culture. Specimens should be collected within eight days of illness onset. False positive antibody results for WNV may occur in patients recently vaccinated for, or infected with, related flaviviruses (i.e., Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Dengue)

  • Please contact DPH Epidemiology at 1-888-295-5156 to coordinate testing.
  • All WNV testing should be performed at, or confirmed by, DPHL.
  • Patient samples obtained at hospital labs in Delaware should automatically be sent to DPHL for confirmatory testing after consultation with the Bureau of Epidemiology.
  • Healthcare providers may request WNV testing from commercial laboratories. However, these results should be confirmed by DPHL. This may necessitate the patient have a second serum sample drawn. Patients can have serum samples drawn at Delaware State Service Centers. Please contact DPH Epidemiology to arrange for this service.

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