Wyoming West Nile Virus update
First Wyoming fatality reported
by Wyoming Department of Health (www.badskeeter.org)
October 10, 2005
Wyoming Department of Health Officials confirm first fatality due to West Nile Virus (WNV) infection in Wyoming resident this year.
After reviewing test results from a private reference laboratory in Washington State and speaking with the patient's physician in Billings on Thursday, Oct. 6, the first fatality due to West Nile virus infection in a Wyoming resident this year has been confirmed, said Kelly Weidenbach, a surveillance epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health.
Weidenbach confirmed that an adult, immunocompromised male from Park County passed away early this week from complications of West Nile neuroinvasive disease. The patient was hospitalized in Billings after developing symptoms consistent with WNV illness around September 20, she said, and the patient's illness progressed quickly as a result of his immunocompromised state.
This patient was the seventh human WNV case in Wyoming this year and the first death. The sixth human case of the year was identified in an adult male from Natrona County earlier this week. That man had meningitis and is recovering, Weidenbach said.
Last year, ten positive cases were identified for the year with no deaths. In 2003, 393 human cases were discovered in Wyoming with nine deaths.
Regarding regional human cases, as of Oct. 4, the CDC website reported 41 in Utah, 75 in Colorado, 68 in Nebraska, and 221 cases in South Dakota.
To date, there have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in Sublette County in birds, horses or humans. None of the counties on the extreme western side of Wyoming have had any reported cases of WNV yet this year.
People with mild WNV infections may experience fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. This is called West Nile fever. People with more severe infections may experience high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, and paralysis. This is called West Nile neuroinvasive disease (i.e. encephalitis and meningitis). If you have any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.
Anyone from infants to the elderly can get WNV, however people over 50 years of age have the highest risk of developing a severe illness. People with compromised immune systems are also at increased risk.
Wyoming Department of Health officials are currently soliciting dead birds for testing for WNV and will continue to do so until the end of October. Those finding raptors such as hawks, owls, or eagles should contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to arrange for carcass transport and testing.
People who find a dead bird on their property should not send it to state or local health agencies, but call the health department's West Nile virus toll-free number at 1-877-WYO-BITE for instructions. They will be asked to provide the following information: name, phone number, bird species, number dead, address where the bird was found, and approximate date of death. If the bird(s) are suitable for testing people will be advised on how to handle and submit the carcass. Not every bird that is submitted will be tested. Reasons include bird is too decomposed, excessive birds have already been submitted from the area, bird is wrong species, etc. Results are usually available within 1 week. Persons will be notified ONLY IF the bird is positive.
Information on WNV and prevention strategies is available on the website at www.badskeeter.org or by calling 1-877-WYO-BITE.