Maryland has first confirmed death from West Nile Virus this season
Fatalities rare, tend to occur in older or immunodeficient patients. Tips follow
Baltimore, MD (September 15, 2015) – Today, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is announcing the first confirmed West Nile Virus death (WNV) in Maryland this year. The infected individual, who died Tuesday, September 8, was an older adult who lived in Baltimore County. The death was confirmed to be attributed to WNV late Monday, September 14.
'This is very unfortunate, and though not common, we do know that people can die from West Nile Virus infection' said DHMH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Dr. Howard Haft. “While the virus can occur symptom-free in people and resolve itself naturally in a few weeks, it can cause sickness or death, typically in older people.”
There are currently 29 confirmed cases of WNV in Maryland, compared with the six that were reported during last year’s season. WNV has been detected in mosquito pools collected in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. A mosquito pool is a group of mosquitoes collected at one of several trap sites across the state.
WNV is a disease that is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected animal. In humans, WNV generally causes either no symptoms or mild, flu-like illness; but it can also be fatal. People older than 60 have the greatest risk of developing severe disease. People with compromised immune systems also may be at high risk of WNV infection.
“This time of year, everyone – especially our elderly population – needs to wrap up to protect themselves against West Nile,” said Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services.
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 can support dozens of mosquitoes. To eliminate mosquito-breeding areas:
Clean rain gutters to allow 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 cans’ 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.
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.