The first confirmed, locally acquired case of West Nile Virus was announced Monday by the Maryland Department of Health.
The case involves an adult living in the Baltimore-Metro region, the department said. MDH monitors mosquito-borne illness and infections, including West Nile and Zika viruses, and have not identified other such cases this year.
The frequency of West Nile Virus in Maryland has fluctuated over time, peaking in 2003 (73 cases), 2012 (47 cases) and 2015 (46 cases), the department said.
Most people infected with West Nile Virus show no symptoms. If the illness develops, sufferers usually experience a combination of fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands, generally occurring two to 14 days after being bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito. Fewer than one percent of those infected have their illness develop into more serious symptoms like high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
West Nile Virus can be fatal in rare cases, with people over 60 and those with compromised immune symptoms at greatest risk.
In an effort to curb the mosquito population, the Department of Health asks residents to monitor and dispose of areas where water can pool, as even a small amount can breed dozens of mosquitos who use water for breeding:
- Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely
- Empty or screen corrugated drain pipes
- Remove old tires or drill drainage holes in tires used as playground equipment
- Turn over wading pools, wheelbarrows, wagons, and carts when not in use
- Flush water from the bottom of plant holders twice a week
- Replace water in birdbaths at least twice a week
- Turn garbage can lids upside down and make sure trash receptacles are empty of water
- Fix dripping faucets
- Aerate ornamental pools and water gardens or stock with fish and use a circulating filter system
Residents are also reminded to limit their risk of mosquito exposure by following simple steps:
- Avoiding areas of high mosquito activity
- Wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats, when concerned about mosquitoes
- Using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent according to package directions
Sick and injured birds are often tested to check for the presence of disease. Those who find dead birds can report them to the Health Department here. Additional information about West Nile Virus can also be found on the department's website.