- The Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) has identified the first reported human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) disease in 2018 in the Fairfax Health District. The patient, an adult resident of the Northeastern part of the county, was hospitalized and is recovering from the illness. In recent years, when one human case occurs in an area, other cases often follow in the same part of the county.
- This case coincides with a large increase in WNV infected mosquitoes across the county; an increase that has occurred earlier this summer compared with previous years.
- Patients with a compatible clinical illness (meningitis, encephalitis, acute flaccid paralysis) should be tested for WNV, especially those at highest risk of serious WNV disease (adults 50-years-old or older and those whose immunity is suppressed due to disease or medication).
- WNV should remain in health care providers’ differential until the end of the mosquito season in Fairfax County (end of October).
- If you have any questions regarding laboratory testing, please contact the Fairfax County Health Department Acute Communicable and Emerging Disease Program at 703-246-2433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Per the Virginia Regulations for Disease Reporting and Control, health care providers are required to report all confirmed cases of WNV to their local health department (https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/diseases-conditions/reporting).
- Patients should be informed of the risk of mosquitos in transmitting diseases, the steps they can take to protect themselves from mosquitoes, and ways reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes. Recommendations include:
- Using a mosquito repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
- Wearing long pants and long sleeves to cover exposed skin.
- Avoiding areas where mosquitoes are especially common during peak biting times, particularly at dawn and dusk.
- Taking steps to control mosquitoes around their yards by “tipping and tossing” items that hold water such as tires, buckets, flowerpots, corrugated downspout extensions and other containers; and using larvicides, such as Mosquito Dunks, in water that cannot be eliminated.
- Keeping doors, windows and screens in good repair.
- Over the last ten years (2008-2017), 29 cases of WNV have been reported to FCHD, with an average of almost three cases reported every year.
- Most persons with WNV have only mild illness, experiencing fever, headache and muscle aches that can last days and weeks. While most people make a full recovery, severe cases of WNV can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis and even death. Of 24 Fairfax County residents who been reported to the Health Department with this disease since 2012, three-quarters have had neuroinvasive disease and two have died.
- WNV is primarily spread by infected Culex mosquitoes which obtain the virus from certain bird species. It is projected that the recent rains will lead to high levels of mosquitos over the next month.
- FCHD’s Disease Carrying Insects Program routinely traps and tests mosquito for WNV throughout Fairfax County every mosquito season. Multiple positive pools throughout the County have already been identified in 2018.
- Fairfax County residents may request a mosquito inspection of their yard from the Health Department’s Disease Carrying Insects Program at 703-246-8931, TTY 711. This inspection will result in recommendations to decrease mosquito populations on resident’s property.