A 41-year-old unidentified patient could be the first human case of West Nile virus in Fairfax County, said officials with the county Health Department Oct. 9. The patient was not hospitalized and is recovering. Laboratory samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation of the virus.
Last year, the county reported 13 human cases, with one resulting in death.
Humans contract West Nile virus most often from the bite of an infected mosquito, but most people bitten by infected mosquitoes do not get sick. Those who do typically suffer a mild flu-like illness and recover without treatment. For a few people, most often senior adults, West Nile virus can cause serious illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.
Health Department officials warn that it is still important to eliminate mosquito breeding areas around homes and for people to protect themselves against bites. Some tips include:
* Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing outdoors;
* Use repellent with no more than 30 percent DEET, except on infants age 2 months and younger;
* Turn over or remove items in the yard that can collect water such as planters, buckets, toys and old tires;
* Eliminate standing water on tarps and flat roofs;
* Clean out birdbaths and wading pools once a week; and
* Clean roof gutters and down spout screens regularly.