2 deaths, 5 active West Nile cases reported in NC

August 29, 2012 12:24:15 PM PDT
Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Wednesday that another North Carolinian has died from the West Nile virus.

State health officials said it was a person in the Triad area, but they would say a specific town due to privacy reasons.

A Goldsboro man who died on Aug. 13 was the first case of a North Carolina resident dying from the disease this year.

"It's actually rarely fatal," State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Carl Williams said. "West Nile virus is actually a fairly common infection. It's estimated that only about 20 percent of people that actually become infected with the virus, actually develop a mild form of illness."

There are currently five active West Nile cases in North Carolina, according to the Department of Health. Confirmed cases have been reported in Cabarrus, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, Scotland and Wayne counties.

Federal health officials have said that West Nile virus cases are up 40 percent since last week and are on pace to rival the record years of 2002 and 2003.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 1,590 cases of the mosquito-borne disease and 66 deaths so far this year. Half of the cases are in Texas.

Health officials said they think that cases have peaked or are peaking now, but likely will continue through October. The disease first appeared in the United States in 1999, and health officials say this summer's hot, dry weather may have contributed to the current boom in cases.

West Nile is typically transmitted by mosquitoes, and symptoms include fever, headache, and a stiff neck.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease is to avoid mosquito bites. Insect repellents, screens on doors and windows and wearing long sleeves and pants are some of the recommended strategies. Also, people should empty standing water from buckets, kiddie pools and other places to discourage breeding.

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