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NC Department of Health and Human Services

State’s first confirmed 2008 human West Nile virus case reported

Release Date: October 2, 2008
Contact: Carol Schriber, 919-733-9190

Este pagina en espanolRALEIGH – This year’s first confirmed case of human West Nile virus illness was reported today by the N.C. Division of Public Health. The Guilford County man fell ill in August and was tested for West Nile virus in September. He is now recovering, health officials say. His laboratory test results have now been confirmed by the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health.

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes. It is not spread person-to-person by casual contact. Illness can range from mild fever to invasive neurologic disease including meningitis, polio-like paralysis, and brain infection (encephalitis).

“We are glad to hear that this patient is on the road to recovery,” said State Health Director Leah Devlin. “But this case is a reminder West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses remain a concern for all North Carolinians. Even though the weather is turning cooler now, mosquitoes are still a problem. You should always take steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites."

"Use mosquito repellent with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus; wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants legs whenever outdoors; and stay inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active,” Devlin said. She reminded people to follow label directions on repellents and not to use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under 3.

“You should also work to make the area around your home less mosquito-friendly,” she added. “That means emptying water-holding containers that allow mosquito-breeding. Look around your house –  if you see anything that is likely to hold even a small amount of water, remove it or fix it so it can’t hold water. Screen rain barrels, and clean out birdbaths and pets’ water bowls at least twice a week. Make sure window screens and screen doors are in good repair.”

Wild birds serve as reservoirs for the West Nile virus. Mosquitoes bite the birds and then can transmit the virus to humans. Although the virus is found in an infected person’s blood, donated blood is screened for the virus in order to prevent transmission through blood transfusions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that less than one percent of people who become infected with West Nile Virus will develop severe illness – most people who get infected do not develop any disease at all. There are three kinds of severe infections –West Nile encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), West Nile meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and West Nile meningoencephalitis, a combination of both. Symptoms of severe WNV infection may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, decrease in the level of consciousness, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. People over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The delay between the bite of an infected mosquito and first symptoms in humans is usually three to 15 days. Anyone who has has the symptoms listed above should contact his or her health care provider and should also tell the provider if they experienced a mosquito bite anytime in the two weeks before falling ill.

For more information on West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, see the N.C. Division of Public Health’s arbovirus website at and the N.C. Division of Environmental Health’s site at .






Updated: July 21, 2011