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Human cases of West Nile Virus confirmed in Kent County


Two people in Kent County have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

According to the Kent County Health Department, the two people who have tested positive are unrelated adults who are residents of Kent County. It is unknown where they contracted the disease.

West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread to people primarily through the bites of an infected Culex species mosquito. While this species is known to transmit WNV it is not known to transmit Zika virus.

WNV is not contagious from person to person. Its symptoms range from a slight headache and low grade fever to, in rare cases, swelling of the brain tissue. But it can result in death.

For three months, ending on Labor Day, the Kent County Health Department conducted weekly surveillance of Culex mosquitoes, testing for the presence of WNV. Tens of thousands of mosquitoes were collected from various areas of the county. Testing was performed on the liquefied remains of up to 50 mosquitoes at a time, and West Nile Virus was found in 20 of those samples.

“We have known through our testing that the threat for contracting West Nile Virus was in our community,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We also know that the threat will continue as long as mosquitoes are active. Even the first frost may not be harsh enough to extinguish the risk.”

West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the first case was diagnosed in Michigan in 2001, more than 1,100 people have been diagnosed with the disease and 92 people have died. In 2001 and again in 2012, Kent County had the second highest number of West Nile cases in the state.

The best treatment for WNV is prevention. The Kent County Health Department recommends wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10–35 percent DEET, wearing light colored clothing and staying indoors during dusk. You can help stop mosquitoes from breeding by removing any standing water in your yard and keeping your lawn and shrubs cut.

More about West Nile Virus can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

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