From the Harford County Health Department:
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) reported the first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2016 involving an adult in Western Maryland.
Harford County Health Department urges the public to take appropriate measures to reduce their risk of infection against this and other mosquito-borne illnesses.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection that can result from the bite of an infected mosquito. Although most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms, about 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a mild form of the illness referred to as West Nile fever. Symptoms may last a few days or as long as several weeks.
Less than 1% of people infected by WNV develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness Although most people are at low risk for disease, people 50 years of age and older have the highest risk of developing severe illness if infected. Also, people who spend a lot of time outdoors have a greater risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
In its August 22nd news release, DHMH also reported that Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a related mosquito-borne disease, also has been detected in mosquitoes on the Eastern Shore.
Zika, yet another mosquito-borne infection, has raised international concerns. Spreading to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, the most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) lasting for several days to a week. People infected with Zika usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital and very rarely die, so many people don’t realize they have been infected. However, the Zika virus remains a serious public health concern because it also can be sexually transmitted from one individual to another. A pregnant woman infected with the virus can pass it on to her fetus during pregnancy, which can cause serious birth defects.
“Prevention is key and there are actions individuals can take to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne infections,” states Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly. “Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats when concerned about mosquito exposure, place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants and use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package directions. Avoid areas of high mosquito activity.”
Residents also are advised to eliminate standing water, where mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.
– At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, cans, or from any other place where you find standing water.
– Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out if necessary.
– Look for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.
– Fix dripping outdoor faucets.
– Aerate ornamental pools and water gardens or stock with fish and use a circulating filter system.
– Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
DHMH provides weekly updates of WNV detected in humans, mosquitoes and horses in Maryland on its website. For each case, DHMH indicates whether the infected individual is a child or an adult and the region of the state where the individual resides. The reports will be available on their Center for Zoonotic and Vectorborne Diseases website at: http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/west-nilevirus.aspx.
In addition to the DHMH website, here are several sources for more information on these viruses. Visit the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com,contact the Health Department at 410-612-1781, or visit the National Centers for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov and use their “A to Z” subject reference for information about the West Nile virus, the Zika virus and/or Eastern equine encephalitis.