The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed a single human case of West Nile Virus. DOH officials have been closely monitoring the well-being of the District of Columbia resident who has since improved and been released from a local hospital.
A West Nile virus human case has been identified during the summer months for the last three consecutive years. DOH is asking residents and visitors alike to follow some simple guidelines in order to prevent mosquito bites during the summer months when mosquitoes are most active.
“As we continue to monitor this situation and protect the health of the District residents, we strongly encourage residents to eliminate water filled cavities and spaces in which mosquitoes breed, such as old car tires, lawn figurines, poorly draining rain gutters, discarded cans and saucers under plant pots” said DOH Director, Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt.
West Nile Virus is an arbovirus that’s most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. It can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
Most people who become infected with West Nile Virus do not develop any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, diarrhea or rash. Most patients with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.
In 2014, the District of Columbia saw 3 human WNV cases and with the addition of this current, Washington, DC has reported 92 cases since first reported in 2002.
As of August 18, 2015, a total of 210 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today