State News

Officials report second West Nile death, three active cases

Posted August 29, 2012

— State public health officials said Tuesday a second person has died after contracting the West Nile virus, and doctors are treating three other cases.

The most recent death happened in the Triad area, according to a spokeswoman with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Earlier this month, a Wayne County man became the state's first death from West Nile virus in at least seven years.

Howard West, 84, of Goldsboro, died Aug. 9. His wife, Betty West, said she thinks her husband was bitten by mosquitoes while tending to his backyard tomato plants.

Officials said the other active cases are in Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Scotland counties.

"While the Division of Public Health has only confirmed cases of West Nile in these five counties, we want to encourage everyone to protect themselves, especially at this time of year when mosquitoes are most active," said Dr. Laura Gerald, state health director.

Health and privacy restrictions limit the amount of information the state can release on the active cases. However, relatives of a Winston-Salem man confirmed he is hospitalized with the virus.

Sharon Anderson told WGHP-TV 8 that she called an ambulance for her father, Don Adkins, last week after she noticed his slurred speech. She said doctors first thought he had meningitis before testing him for West Nile.

“Of all the people in the world it could happen to, it happened to my dad,” Anderson said. She said the family believes he was bitten by mosquitoes while on his front porch.

West Nile is a bird virus that mosquitoes carry to humans. Most infected people show no signs of the virus, but common symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a stiff neck.

Cases of West Nile virus have spiked nationwide this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reported 1,590 people so far this year have been infected. Of those cases, 66 people have died.

The CDC said the 2012 numbers are the highest reported since the virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. More than 70 percent of the cases have been Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan.

DHHS officials recommend the following precautions to eliminate potential mosquito-breeding sites around homes and businesses: 

  • Eliminate standing water in places such as flower pots, discarded containers, gutters and kiddie pools.
  • Clean ornamental ponds and ensure that filtration systems are functioning properly.
  • Clean and change water in horse troughs at least once a week.

August and September are the peak months for mosquitoes in North Carolina, and officials said people should wear long sleeves when outdoors and use approved repellents to create a double-barrier of protection.


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  • DontAnnoyMe Aug 29, 2012

    @CestLaVie: "The CDC is full of hooey."


    Many people get West Nile and never know it. It is usually only fatal in the elderly or immunocompromised.

  • UreapwhatUsow Aug 29, 2012

    What I find most scary about all the stories on West Nile deaths is the lack of aggressive care in the hospital ER. Most people go to the ER because they think it is an emergency situation, so when they take you in, shouldn't they be required to do agrressive bloodwork, based on your symptoms? It seems to me, they do as little as possible to keep you alive till the next day when you can see your primary care Dr.. I have a friend that almost died from leukemia, they told him he had a cold! The whole medical field needs some fine tuning to seperate those that have true emergencies and those that don't have primary care dr.'s.

  • fatchanceson Aug 29, 2012


  • CestLaVie Aug 29, 2012

    The CDC is full of hooey. More scare tactics. If one eats properly ALL the time (raw veggies & fruits, no meat, poultry or seafood, seeds, nuts, beans, no sugar, no processed foods), none of this junk is a worry. But, since most people don't believe what I write, they think I'm crazy when in fact they are crazy to believe what their docs, big government & the drug store tells them to do. Millions upon millions of people in this country today....& they're dying needlessly.

  • baracus Aug 29, 2012

    "I'd say we're all at risk. Mosquitos don't respect county boundaries"

    True. Wanting it narrowed down to the town is pointless since that only tells you where they lived not where they contracted it.

  • Screw WrAl Aug 29, 2012

    Man I got bit by a skeeter today, guess I'm next.

  • tierneemalinadeveaux Aug 29, 2012

    Looks like we will be letting the water out of the above-ground pool this weekend...

  • Fireflies Rock Aug 29, 2012

    I'd say we're all at risk. Mosquitos don't respect county boundaries

  • hardycitrus Aug 29, 2012

    If you get it bad, it's very very fast with multiple organ failure requiring lots of life support. A regional hospital isn't equipped to deal with it.

  • dkbray170 Aug 29, 2012

    The 1st victim was my grandmothers 1st cousin. He had been in good health up until this time so his sudden death was a shock to us all.