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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: August 16, 2012


Delaware's Division of Public Health reminds community members to protect themselves against West Nile virus. Although a number of cases have been seen in the US recently, Delaware has had no human cases of the disease this year and only one in 2011. 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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.

"Public Health is urging Delawareans to be vigilant in protecting themselves from mosquito bites," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Delaware Public Health Director. "and urging medical providers to be familiar with West Nile symptoms and treatment. When in doubt, 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 more general information, go to

For medical providers, to report suspected cases or learn more about testing, call the DPH Bureau of Epidemiology at 1-888-295-5156.

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.