Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta was notified by the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Laboratory about a second human case of West Nile virus and also the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus in a mosquito pool in Onondaga County.
The West Nile virus (WNV) case was diagnosed in an elderly person who is hospitalized but in stable condition. West Nile virus is spread by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. Dr. Gupta explained that, “West Nile virus has been found in numerous mosquito traps throughout the county this summer, and is considered to be endemic, or widespread.”
While most people infected with WNV do not develop symptoms, 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Severe illness can strike at any age, however, people over 60 years of age and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or who have received organ transplants, are at higher risk. Symptoms of severe illness may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, seizures, paralysis, and coma that could lead to death. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for WNV infection, other than to treat the symptoms and provide supportive care. Consult with your healthcare provider if you are concerned that you have any of these signs or symptoms.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV) was found in a mosquito pool collected last week from a trap located in the town of Lysander. Dr. Gupta explained, “EEE is an extremely rare but serious infection that causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. It is spread by the bite of a mosquito infected with EEEV.” People over the age of 50 and younger than the age of 15 are at greatest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEEV.
Dr. Gupta continued, “Mosquito counts are low at this point in the season, but it is extremely important that residents continue to use personal protection measures to help reduce their risk of being bitten by a mosquito. Reducing exposure to mosquitoes is the best way to protect yourself from mosquito-borne viruses.” Personal protection is recommended during outdoor activities by wearing shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outside. Applying a mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, or IR3535 is also recommended to prevent mosquito bites. Do not allow children to handle repellent. Put a small amount of repellent on your hands and apply it to your child. Do not put insect repellent on your face. Wash skin and clothing after returning indoors and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application.
For more information about mosquito counts, mosquito-borne diseases, and personal protection measures, contact the Onondaga County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health at (315) 435-1649 or visit www.ongov.net/health/mosquitoborne.html.