The state government of North Carolina is reporting the first confirmed the state’s death from West Nile in 2015, bringing to an end a relatively quiet season for the state so far this year. The age, gender, and location of the person has not yet been released.
UPDATE: The family of the victim has released his identity. The victim’s name is Roscoe Rogan, and he was 76 years old. Roscoe went to the hospital after suffering from vomiting and other symptoms. He was hospitalized for approximately two weeks, but was unable to recover from the disease.
Most mosquito born illnesses occur between August and October, so the fatality rate could rise in the near future. In 2014, 2,085 infections were reported, with 84 fatalities occurring, while 2013 saw 2,469 cases with 119 fatalities. Back in 2002 more than 4,000 cases were reported, with 284 people succumbing to the disease.
West Nile has been known for causing major scares from time to time, though compared to other diseases, it is much less of a threat to Americans. Extensive efforts to keep mosquito populations under control, along with advanced healthcare treatment, make the disease less of a threat for developed nations.
West Nile was first discovered in the West Nile region of Uganda in 1937, hence the name. Unlike most mosquito-borne illnesses, such as Malaria, which have been all but eradicated in developed countries, West Nile is still somewhat common.
West Nile is transferred to people through mosquitoes, which as of now are the only known hosts for the virus. While the West Nile virus makes occasional headlines for killing people, the virus is actually relatively benign, causing fatalities in less than 1 percent of those infected.
In fact, most people who are infected with the virus will show no symptoms at all. Of those who do show symptoms, they experience only mild symptoms akin to the flu. Other mosquito born diseases, such as malaria, pose a much greater threat.
Still, owing to the potential for fatalities, especially among the young, old, and other vulnerable populations, the disease is closely monitored by health officials. With the mosquito-borne disease season just heating up, more cases are likely to be reported.
In approximately 20 percent of cases, a relatively strong fever is reported, though it is generally not life threatening in and of itself. In less than 1 percent of cases West Nile neuroinvasive disease is reported, which can cause more serious complications, such as meningitis. Other conditions can also rise.
There is no cure and no vaccine for the virus. Viruses are especially difficult to fight via medicines, so this should come as no surprise.
Killing mosquito populations on your property, and wearing mosquito repellent will help people avoid infection. Health officials advise that you empty standing water (i.e. buckets), and repair screen windows as needed.