WASHINGTON – An adult in central Maryland is the state’s first person to contract West Nile virus and show symptoms in 2012.
The U.S. Department of Defense detected the virus in a pool of mosquitoes collected at a trap site in Montgomery County, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. A few tests throughout the state have come back positive for West Nile.
The CDC reports that West Nile season is off to an early start this year.
Most people who contract the virus do not show symptoms, according to the DHMH. For those who do, common symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms typically appear within three to 15 days following the bite of an infected mosquito, according to the department.
Less than one percent of people who are infected show more severe symptoms like neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation or convulsions, according to the DHMH.
People over 50 and people who have a weakened immune system have a higher risk of becoming infected.
The DHMH is urging people to take protective measures:
Avoid areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes
Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats when concerned about mosquito exposure
Use an EPA-registered insect repellent
“West Nile Virus continues to threaten the health of Maryland residents,” says DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein in a press release. “These findings remind us that there are basic actions we can all take to reduce our risk of getting infected.”
Maryland is not in an area of the country that has a greater number of West Nile Virus infections, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2003, 73 human cases of the virus were reported. In 2010, 23 human cases were reported and 19 were reported last year.