The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) would like to alert the medical community of evidence of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Delaware. While there have been no confirmed cases in humans in Delaware this season, as of July 30, 2010, two cases have been confirmed in chickens as part of Delaware’s sentinel surveillance system.
Although WNV is known to cause a mild illness in humans, there is a likelihood of some individuals developing severe illness. It is therefore advisable to consider WNV in a differential diagnosis.
West Nile virus first appeared in Delaware birds and horses in 2000. Delaware's first confirmed human case of West Nile virus occurred in 2002. In 2003, 17 human cases were confirmed, including two deaths. While there were no reported human cases in 2004 2006, and 2009, two cases were confirmed in 2005 and one in 2007 and 2008.
The DPH Laboratory (DPHL) performs WNV testing for humans, birds and horses. Methods include antibody testing, as well as PCR and culture. Specimens should be collected within eight days of illness onset. False positive antibody results for WNV may occur in patients recently vaccinated for, or infected with, related flaviviruses (i.e., Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Dengue)
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