Maryland West Nile Virus activity this season outpacing last year’s
In most cases, virus causes no symptoms, clears up; State provides residents tips
Baltimore, MD (September 1, 2015) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) continues to track cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) statewide. Since the first locally acquired WNV human case was reported on August 18, a total of 13 human cases have been reported in Maryland, exceeding the six cases reported in all of 2014.
Since human WNV activity was first reported in Maryland in 2001, an average of 19 cases have been reported each year, with peak activity in 2003 (73 cases) and 2012 (47 cases). In addition to the human cases reported to date in 2015, WNV also has been detected in mosquitoes and horses in Maryland this year.
“We expect to see West Nile virus cases each year around this time, because the disease is established in Maryland,' said DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Howard Haft. 'Marylanders are reminded that they can take basic precautions to reduce the risk of getting infected.'
Measures people can take to protect themselves include:
Avoiding areas of high mosquito activity.
Avoiding unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
Wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats, when concerned about mosquito exposure.
Using an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package directions.
Most individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. People that do develop illness usually will have any combination of fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. These symptoms generally appear two to 14 days following the bite of an infected mosquito. Less than one percent of persons exposed to the virus will develop more severe infections, with symptoms such as headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. In rare instances, WNV can be fatal. Persons older than 60 have the greatest risk of developing severe disease. People who are immunocompromised also may be at high risk of WNV infection.
Residents are urged to monitor their own yards and gardens for standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Small amounts of water in a discarded can or container will support dozens of mosquitoes. To eliminate mosquito-breeding areas:
Clean rain gutters to enable water to flow freely.
Empty or screen corrugated drain pipes.
Remove old tires or drill drainage holes in tires used as playground equipment.
Turn over wading pools, wheelbarrows, wagons and carts when not in use. Flush water from the bottom of plant holders twice a week.
Replace water in birdbaths at least twice a week.
Turn garbage can lids upside down and make sure trash receptacles are empty of water.
Fix dripping faucets.
Aerate ornamental pools and water gardens or stock with fish and use a circulating filter system.
Following identification of human WNV cases, the Maryland Department of Agriculture will spray all communities within a one-mile radius of where the person resides, and will continue routine spray operations in all other participating communities throughout the state.
Although birds are not routinely tested for WNV in Maryland, sick or injured birds can be reported to an appropriate local wildlife rehabilitator. Residents can call 1-877-463-6497 for a list of licensed rehabilitators or visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources web site at http://goo.gl/s05loY. Detailed instructions on what to do when you find a sick or dead bird can be found at http://goo.gl/a9L1sK.
DHMH provides weekly updates of WNV detected in humans, mosquitoes and horses in Maryland on its website. For each human case, DHMH indicates whether the infected individual is a child or an adult and the region of the state where the individual resides. Updated reports will be available each Wednesday at http://goo.gl/a9L1sK.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the state government agency that protects Maryland’s public health and also works to help Marylanders make better health decisions for better health outcomes. Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH and www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH.