Human West Nile case in Carter County

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com
A case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in a person who resides in Carter County, but health officials believe the disease may have been contracted in another state. Officials for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Public Health Office confirmed a positive test for West Nile in a Carter County resident Tuesday.
"The individual was hospitalized and treated," said Beth Rader, of the Regional Public Health Office. "The individual has been released and is doing fine now." The resident was treated at a local hospital for 11 days and has no lingering health problems associated with the virus.
Rader said the identity, age and gender of the individual who was treated for the virus is not being released due to reasons of confidentiality.
The confirmed case in Carter County brings the total number of confirmed human cases in the state to eight this year. So far, no one in Tennessee who has contracted the disease has died as a result of the illness. The age of persons infected with the disease in Tennessee ranges from 50-83 years of age with the average age being 67.
Currently, only four Tennessee counties have had confirmed human cases of the virus, while 55 of the state's 95 counties have found infected birds. Carter County is still in the process of testing the bird population for the presence of the disease. Washington, Sullivan and Greene Counties have discontinued testing the bird population since the disease has been found to be present in those animals.
Nationally, 42 states have confirmed human cases of the virus. This year, a total of 5,722 cases have been reported in humans across the country, and 110 people have died as a result of the disease. Nearly one third of those cases have occurred in Colorado, where 1,991 human infections have been reported and 36 people have died from the virus.
The number of human cases this year is over the number seen last year. In 2002, 4,156 cases of West Nile virus were reported in humans. In that year, 48 states reported the virus present in either the bird, equine, mosquito or human populations. This year, the virus has been reported in 45 states in those populations.
Residents are still being advised to take precautions when engaging in outdoor activities.
"With the possibility of mosquito activity even this late in the year, it is important for individuals to be more careful than ever to protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves, long pants and by using insect repellent containing DEET when you are outdoors, staying indoors as much as possible when mosquitoes are most active and making sure there is no standing water around your home or yard," said Dr. David Kirschke, a medical epidemiologist with the Regional Public Health Office.