District of Columbia health officials are reporting the city's first West Nile virus death.
Health officials also announced Wednesday that another district resident is hospitalized with the virus. The Washington Post (wapo.st/RaDKkr) reported that the number of cases in the Washington area is about the same as in previous years.
Maryland health officials reported the state's first death from the virus last week. No deaths have been reported in Virginia.
Federal officials say cases nationwide are up sharply and may rival the record years of 2002 and 2003. Officials say an early spring and hot summer may be responsible. Mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds and then spread it to people they bite.
DC Department of Health Press Release:
Today, the DC Department of Health (DOH) confirmed its first death as a result of West Nile Virus (WNV) this summer. Several weeks ago, DOH announced its first case of West Nile Virus, bringing the total number of confirmed WNV cases to two in the District of Columbia.
The recent WNV fatality occurred in a senior, male resident. While seniors and children are most vulnerable, it is important to remember that West Nile Virus is a life-threatening disease that has the potential to affect all residents. All residents are strongly encouraged to take precaution when outdoors, use mosquito repellant with DEET, wear long sleeves and pants, and take the appropriate measures to protect children and the elderly.
What Residents Need to Know about West Nile Virus:
· West Nile Virus is mainly an infection of birds, but on occasion an infected mosquito may spread it to humans.
· WNV is not transmitted directly from birds to humans, or from person to person and the risk of West Nile Virus infection is low; however, ALL residents are at risk and should take caution when outdoors.
· In human infections, the virus generally causes no symptoms or may cause mild flu-like symptoms including fever, muscle aches, rash and swollen lymph nodes.
· According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there have been 1,993 national cases of WNV and 87 deaths as a result of the disease.
How to Protect Yourself from Mosquitoes:
1. Remove discarded tires. Drill drainage holes in tires used on playground equipment.
2. Clean roof gutters and downspouts regularly. Eliminate standing water from flat roofs.
3. Turn over plastic wading pools, wheelbarrows, and canoes when not in use.
4. Cover waste containers with tight-fitting lids; never allow lids or cans to accumulate water.
5. Flush bird baths and potted plant trays twice each week.
6. Adjust tarps over grills, firewood piles, boats or swimming pools to eliminate small pockets of water from standing several days.
7. Re-grade low areas where water stands; clean debris in ditches to eliminate standing water in low spots.
8. Fix dripping water faucets outside and eliminate puddles from air conditioners.
9. Store pet food and water bowls inside when not in use.
What DOH Has Been Doing to Protect Residents:
· A team of DOH state epidemiologists and Animal Disease Control staff have been proactively monitoring WNV since April, 2012 and will continue to monitor the virus throughout the summer and early fall months.
· Since May of this year, DOH staff have implemented an aggressive WNV outreach campaign in several District communities in order to educate, inform and protect residents with the use of flyers, brochures and web updates.
· DOH Animal Disease Control staff will also continue efforts to conduct city-wide surveillance of mosquito pools in order to identify and locate disease spreading mosquitoes.
If you or someone you know suspects they have contracted WNV, seek medical attention immediately. For more information about West Nile Virus please visit doh.dc.gov; www.cdc.gov, or call the WNV Call Center at 202-535-2323.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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