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DHSS Press Release

Molly Magarik, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: Jill.Fredel@delaware.gov

DPH Media Contact:
Tim Turane
Email: DPHMedia@Delaware.gov

Date: August 31, 2022


DOVER, DE (Aug. 31, 2022) - The Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing this year's first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV), in a 78-year-old Sussex County man. West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause serious health problems.

In addition to the first human WNV case, there also have been confirmed cases in a horse in New Castle County, and in 19 sentinel chickens in outdoor-caged and humanely tended stations maintained throughout the state by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). Delawareans should be aware that mosquitoes that cause WNV bite primarily during the evening and morning hours; or dusk and dawn. However, mosquitoes that cause other diseases such as chikungunya, dengue fever, and Zika can bite during the day. It is important to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent whenever you go outdoors.

WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes, generally in summer and fall, with a peak period for disease transmission from mid-August to mid-October. Nearly 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not become ill. Less than 20 percent of those infected with the virus will develop mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back, and swollen lymph glands. Approximately one in 150 people infected will develop severe infection which may include headache, high fever, stiff neck, tremors or convulsions, muscle weakness, encephalitis or meningitis, all possibly leading to hospitalization and very rarely death. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk to contract WNV from mosquitoes. Anyone who experiences any of these severe symptoms should immediately seek medical assistance.

To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, individuals should:

DNREC's Mosquito Control section announced WNV in sentinel chickens for the first time in July 2021. Mosquito-transmitted virus detections in DNREC's sentinel chickens are unrelated to Delaware's poultry industry. The possibility of contracting mosquito-transmitted diseases, including WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), will continue until colder autumn temperatures in mid-October or later.

For more information on West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, visit https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/epi/wnv.html.

For more information on what you can do to prevent West Nile Virus, visit the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's website, www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html.

Anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-Blind or speech disabled can contact DPH by dialing 711 first using specialized devices (i.e. TTY, TeleBraille, voice devices). The 711 service is free and to learn more about how it works, please visit delawarerelay.com.

DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state's natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware's fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 68,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media contacts: Michael Globetti, Joanna Wilson

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.