By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced today that they have identified the first case of human West Nile virus in 2020. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has announced that they have found West Nile virus activity in the mosquito population in 16 of the 67 counties in the state, including all counties in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Image by Bruce Emmerling from Pixabay

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley reminds residents to take precautions to combat the virus, “We all have a role in preventing the spread of West Nile Virus. And it’s easy to do: wear mosquito repellent and dump out standing water.”

West Nile Virus is a neurologic infection that is spread by infected mosquitoes biting humans. A majority of people who are infected with West Nile Virus will not develop symptoms, however, one in five individuals will develop fever and flu-like symptoms. One in 150 people will develop severe West Nile Virus infection that causes inflammation of the brain or spine that can lead to death. While people of any age can be infected with West Nile Virus, those 50 years of age and older are at highest risk for severe disease and death. If you or a family member are experiencing unexplained headaches, weakness, and fatigue,  see your primary care provider.

Since 2001, the annual number of severe cases among city residents has fluctuated between no cases and up to 24 cases, with peak seasons in 2003, 2010, and 2018. The last five years have varied in severity, with only three cases seen in 2017, and 17 cases seen in 2018.