DOVER, Del.- Four persons in Delaware have tested positive for West Nile Virus, the state Division of Public Health said Tuesday.
The cases, three in New Castle County and one in Kent County were reported to the DPH in mid-late August. None of the individuals reported symptoms, officials said. They said that instead, the virus was found as part of bloodwork related to a routine medical procedure. The mosquito-borne illness can become serious and the DPH reminds people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes, generally from spring to fall. The DPH said that 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 will 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. The DPH said symptoms may progress to stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, paralysis, and possibly death.
"West Nile Virus may not cause symptoms in most people, but in others it can cause a serious illness or even be fatal,” said DPH Division Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "It's easy to forget that something as simple as a mosquito bite can make someone very sick. DPH reminds people to protect themselves and their families during mosquito season, which can last until the first hard frost.”
The DPH said that 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:
Glasgow Office (upstate): (302) 836-2555, for all of New Castle County and the northern half of Kent County, including Dover.
Milford Office (downstate): (302) 422-1512, for the southern half of Kent County south of Dover, and for all of Sussex County.
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 DNREC Mosquito Control, call (302) 739-9917 or visit dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Services/Pages/MosquitoSection.aspx.