RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia Department of Health and the Roanoke City Health District announced today the states first probable human case of West Nile virus this year. Laboratory samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation.
The case involves a Roanoke resident who is between 40 and 50 years old. The individual was hospitalized and is still recovering. Laboratory samples were collected on July 29, 2004 and tested as presumptive positive by the states Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services on Aug. 7, 2004.
The risk of illness from West Nile virus exists even for healthy people, but people over 50 years old and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to become seriously ill than others, said State Health Commissioner Robert. B. Stroube MD, MPH. This is a reminder to people of the importance of eliminating mosquito breeding areas around the home and protecting themselves from mosquito bites.
Jody Hershey, MD, MPH, acting director for the Roanoke City Health District, said this probable West Nile virus case reinforces the message the district is sending to combat the disease. West Nile virus is still a health concern for us. The health department will continue educating citizens on how to protect themselves and conduct activities to control mosquito populations in the district, Hershey said.
There were 26 human cases of the virus reported last year and one death in Virginia. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not get sick. People who do get sick usually suffer a mild flu-like illness. Few people suffer serious illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis.
Source: Virginia Department of Health