Two test positive for West Nile in Kent County

Sep 15, 2016

Credit CDC Public Health Image Library (PHIL) via Wikimedia | Public Domain / Wikimedia.org

Two Kent County residents have tested positive for West Nile virus. 

The Kent County Health Department says the two adults are unrelated, and it’s not clear where they contracted the disease.

Steve Kelso with the KCHD says West Nile is spread primarily through infected mosquitoes and is not contagious in human-to-human contact.

“The key thing here is that this is preventable. We know that if you don’t get bit by a mosquito, you don’t get West Nile virus," he says. "So if you can avoid that and take behaviors and steps beyond - to make sure you don’t get bit by mosquitoes, you can really lengthen your odds.”

The department says the results follow comprehensive surveillance efforts for West Nile by health officials, including weekly tests across the county over the past few months.

Tens of thousands of mosquitos during that time were collected and combined for sampling. Officials say 20 of those samples tested positive for the virus.

They add the type of mosquito carrying the virus locally is not known to transmit the Zika virus.

Symptoms of West Nile include headaches and fever. Rare cases involve brain swelling and can be fatal.

"Our most important message is prevention is the best method here. We just really urge you to take caution," Kelso says. "And interestingly enough, if you are traveling to a Zika-affected area, these precautions are universal."

Kelso says that includes regular use of mosquito repellant with DEET and staying indoors during dusk, as well as residential upkeep measures - like removing standing water areas outdoors and keeping foliage trimmed.