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A resident of Edgefield has been diagnosed with this year’s first confirmed case of West Nile Disease in the county. The resident, a Caucasian woman in early thirties, began suffering from flu like symptoms around the Labor Day weekend. After initially undergoing tests for strep throat and the flu, each of which was reported to be negative, the woman was informed on Friday, Sept. 7, that results from a blood test confirmed that she does indeed have West Nile.
The woman, who spoke with The Advertiser Sunday, Sept. 9, on the condition of anonymity, said that she was certain she had the flu due to the symptoms she was experiencing. She ran a fever for nearly five days that reached a high of 100.8° and experienced aches, congestion, and exhaustion as well. Now in what she hopes is the final stages of the disease’s course, the woman commented that she currently feels like she has a really bad cold.
One would think she has something contagious when speaking with her as she has that raspy cold-voice and a wet sounding cough, but West Nile is not contagious through simple human contact (although there have been rare cases of it being transmitted through transplants, transfusions, and from mother to child through birth and nursing.) There is also no treatment for this disease, and the woman will just have to let it run its course which, she has been told, can be as long as a month. While prescribed no medication to directly fight West Nile, the woman was able to take over-the-counter pain medications for the fever and aches.
West Nile is a mosquito borne disease and has been reported in many surrounding counties for the past several months. According the Centers for Disease Control, as of Sept. 4 there have been 1,993 cases of West Nile reported in the US this year, and the disease has resulted in 87 deaths. This is the highest number of confirmed cases in the US since the disease was first reported in the States in 1999. Of all the cases reported thus far, 45% are in Texas.
The incubation period of West Nile disease in humans is 2-15 days, thus it is often hard for victims to trace when and where they received the infected bite. However, the CDC has posted guidelines for curbing the spread of the disease. They recommend eliminating any standing water which is where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Other measures include installing/repairing window/door screens, using insect repellent, and supporting community based mosquito control programs. The CDC also cautions not to handle dead birds with bare hands as many birds have been found to be infected with the disease. Instead, if a dead bird is found, contact your local health department immediately. For more information on West Nile, visit www.CDC.gov.