Potential Case of West Nile? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/20/07

Potential Case of West Nile?

It didn't take long for Dr. Richard Roth to know something wasn't right. "This patient presented with an acute onset, a very quick onset of a headache syndrome, high spiking fever. Almost a flu like illness, a lot of body aches," he explained.

And those symptoms set off an alarm in Dr. Roth, a subspecialist in infectious diseases. They can mimic those found in West Nile, a disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Upon further testing, Dr. Roth realized he may be treating the first patient this year with the potentially fatal disease.

"Fortunately, this individual did very well, mostly with supportive care," Dr. Roth told us. "IV Fluids, monitoring, checking laboratories to see what happens from there. He's doing great. He's up and around, back to work and things like that."

Earlier this week, the Chatham County Health Department and Mosquito Control officials held a meeting, trying to get the word out about the disease (see: West Nile Virus Threat High in Chatham County). They said Chatham County's threat for West Nile virus is the highest it's been since 2003, when nine people were infected. At least one died then.

Dr. Michael Adams is a physician with the Chatham County Health Department. He says 80 percent of people infected with the virus don't show any signs or symptoms: they may have it and not even know it. Health department officials are waiting before they confirm this latest case.

Health officials now have their eyes on the skies, with all the rain we've gotten in the past 24 hours, standing pools of water now become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

"They lay their eggs in water, and in warm climates, like here in Chatham County, adult mosquitoes can come out of the water in as little as ten days," Dr. Adams explained.

Something to watch out for to protect yourself from the harmful disease.

"I think it's not cause for alarm," Dr. Adams continued, "but I think the awareness and concern should be a notch above normal. All individuals should be concerned about the possibility of contracting West Nile with just simple measures to prevent it in mind."

Some of those preventive measures include the five D's:

*Avoid outdoor activity at dusk and at dawn.
*Dress in long sleeve shirts and long pants.
*Drain any containers around your home that may hold standing water.
*Use a bug repellent that contains DEET.

This is especially important for people over 50, and those who may have compromised immune systems from other diseases. 

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

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