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Marylanders Urged To Take Precautions As West Nile Virus Tracking Begins

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reminds Marylanders to take precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites as it begins tracking West Nile virus cases for the 2013 season.

The number of human WNV cases in Maryland has varied over the past several years. In 2003, the peak year, 73 human WNV cases were reported statewide.  The number of human cases declined for several years afterward, ranging between one and 23 cases from 2004 through 2011.

However, health officials documented significant increases in human WNV cases in 2012, with 47 cases reported in Maryland and more than 5,600 cases reported nationwide.

“The number of West Nile cases we will see in any given year is unpredictable, so we encourage everyone to take some simple actions to avoid mosquito bites,” said Dr. Katherine Feldman, State Public Health Veterinarian at DHMH.

Measures people can take to protect themselves include:

  • Avoid areas of high mosquito activity
  • Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats when concerned about mosquito exposure
  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package directions

Residents are also urged to monitor their yards and gardens for standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Small amounts of water in a discarded can or container will support dozens of mosquitoes.

Upon confirmation of the first WNV human case or positive mosquito pool, DHMH will begin to post weekly reports each Wednesday, here.

For additional information on West Nile virus, click here.

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