The Department of Health has reported Pennsylvania’s first probable human case of West Nile virus (WNV) of 2011. On July 22, an elderly Lebanon County woman was hospitalized with a high fever and neurological symptoms. The DOH reports that she is currently recovering.
[First case of West Nile virus found]
WNV is spread to people and animals by infected mosquitoes. Usually, the infection does not result in any illness. However, older adults and persons with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of becoming ill from a West Nile infection.
A severe WNV infection can cause encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. People with encephalitis may experience high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and coma. Anyone with any of these symptoms should immediately contact their health care provider.
[Highest concentration of West Nile in South Central region]
A milder form of infection is known as West Nile fever. In addition to fever, people with this milder form of the disease may also experience headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.
There is no specific treatment for the WNV disease. For extreme cases, hospitalization may be required and in some cases WNV can lead to long-term disabilities and death.
[West Nile Virus found in additional areas]
This year, mosquito samples in 54 counties have been identified with West Nile virus. It was first identified in Pennsylvania in 2000. Since then, the virus has been found in all areas of the state, returning each summer.
Recent statistics show:
- 2010: 28 human cases; no deaths.
- 2009: No human cases.
- 2008: 14 human cases; one death.
- 2007: 10 human cases; no deaths.
- 2006: 9 human cases; two deaths.
- 2005: 25 human cases; two deaths.
- 2004: 15 human cases; two deaths.
- 2003: 237 human cases; nine deaths.
- 2002: 62 human cases; nine deaths.
- 2001: 3 human cases; no deaths.
For more information about WNV, including current test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, please visit WNVCP by clicking HERE or call the Pennsylvania Department of Health at (877) PA-HEALTH.
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©2011 Yvonne P. Mazzulo, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a joltleft.com.