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State health officials report first death from West Nile virus

Posted September 19, 2013

— A Wilson County adult has become the first person in the state to die from West Nile virus this year, health officials reported Thursday.

The name, age and gender of the person were not released.

The illness was the first confirmed case of West Nile in the state in 2013.

The state Department of Health and Human Services warned residents and visitors to guard against the mosquito-borne illness.

"This is a tragic reminder that these infections can be fatal. Fortunately, preventive measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of infection," Dr. Robin Cummings, acting state health director, said in a statement. "Most cases of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illness occur from mid-August through mid-October in our state, so we encourage everyone to take precautions to protect against mosquitoes."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 696 cases of West Nile virus nationwide through Sept. 10, including 28 deaths. There were 2,636 cases reported during the same period last year.

According to the CDC, there were 54 confirmed West Nile cases in North Carolina from 1999 to 2012, with the number of cases peaking at 24 in 2003.

There were two West Nile deaths in the state last year: An unidentified person in the Triad area and a man in Wayne County.

Howard West, 84, of Goldsboro, died in August, 2012. His wife told WRAL News last year that she believed her husband was bitten by mosquitoes while tending to his backyard tomato plants.

DHHS listed the following recommendations to help reduce the chances of contracting West Nile:

  • Eliminate standing water in 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.
  • Keep window screens and panes in good condition to prevent entry of insects.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants and socks while outdoors when weather permits.

This story is closed for comments.

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  • HANS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! JK Sep 20, 2013

    don't see why the need to keep age and gender a secret.......


    Because they know the fear fator woud be drastically reduced if they told us the person was 84 years old with a heart condition and 23 other underlying health issues

  • Obamacare for everyone Sep 19, 2013

    Has anyone mentioned the use of drone strikes to take out all of these rogue mosquitos?

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Sep 19, 2013

    West Nile virus cannot be totally prevented. But you can greatly reduce your odds of getting it.

  • jonstewartrules Sep 19, 2013

    Spraying is a socialist program. There is no way to separate out those who have contributed to society and are therefore worthy of spray, and those who, like the mosquitoes they help breed, suck the life blood out of our corporations. Lots of folks have been getting sprayed for years, and now seem to feel entitled to it. If we don't stop spraying everyone willy-nilly, soon, we won't have any spray money left. Only those deserving of spraying should be sprayed. The "spray creators" who provide us this spray opportunity are going to close up shop and head elsewhere if we just keep spending spray money right and left. We've got to defund spraying. Shut down the government if we have to, but this Obamanation must be stopped.

  • Bealzebub Sep 19, 2013

    I have recently complained to the City of Chapel Hill about their lack of any real mosquito control. They have become so bad that our neighborhoods yards are almost useless. I feel like I live in a malarial swamp. This year is the worst I've seen it. They really should spray. But apparently this is not PC. Even though we have a federally mandated SWAMP in the middle of Chapel Hill. (Waterfowl impoundment). It's the same old same old. They have some person come out and tell you to empty standing water. Put mosquito dunks in your rain barells. Ok I already did that. What about that giant swamp of standing water I can't empty or put "dunks" in? "Can we spray now?". Of course not. I have to use almost 100% DEET now to even venture outside without getting eaten alive. Asian Tigers. Eat all day!

  • dwntwnboy2 Sep 19, 2013

    All the rain this summer has made the mosquitoes horrible!! I keep a bottle of repellent by the door. They LOVE LOVE LOVE to bite into me and I have a terrible reaction to them. The only good mosquito is a dead mosquito.

  • Scubagirl Sep 19, 2013

    don't see why the need to keep age and gender a secret.......

  • itsmyownopinion Sep 19, 2013

    Why are so many people snarking on this article? I don't think it's funny at all.

  • Obamacare for everyone Sep 19, 2013

    lovinOBX, that's a good point and I'd venture out a guess to say that WRAL doesn't have that information yet. If this was a healthy 20-something track athlete, I'm running for the hills.

  • Obamacare for everyone Sep 19, 2013

    Time for me to buy a 40 gallon drum of OFF insect repellant and park that sucker in the back yard.