Md. announces first case of West Nile virus this year

WASHINGTON — Maryland health officials announced Monday the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in the state this year.

The Maryland Health Department said the infected person is an adult who lives in the Baltimore area.

The state’s Department of Agriculture will spray insecticides within a three-quarter-mile radius of where the person lives, the health department said in a news release Monday. Routine spraying of insecticide will also continue throughout the state.

Overall, the number of confirmed cases of West Nile virus in humans varies greatly year to year. Last year, there were just five cases, according to the health department’s website. In 2015, there were 46. The peak came in 2003 when there were 73, the health department said.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash and swollen lymph glands and they usually appear two to 14 days after being bit by an infected mosquito. However, most people infected will not have any symptoms, the health department said.

West Nile can be fatal, although it is rare. People older than 60 and people with compromised immune systems have the greatest risk of developing severe complications.

You can reduce your risk of becoming infected by West Nile virus by avoiding areas with a lot of mosquitoes, wearing long pants and long sleeves, and using insect repellent. You should also take steps to reduce areas of standing water, by cleaning out your gutters, removing old tires, turning over wading pools and replacing birdbath water at least twice a week.

The virus first appeared in Maryland in 1999 in a crow. The first human case was reported in 2001, according to the health department’s website.

The health department tracks confirmed West Nile infections on its website.


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Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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