First West Nile virus case in Maryland this year confirmed on Eastern Shore

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An adult living on the Eastern Shore has tested positive for West Nile virus, the Maryland Department of Health said.

The infection is the first confirmed human case of the virus in the state this year, the department said in a news release Wednesday. The patient is recovering.


The virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes infected by feeding on birds that have the virus, and can be spread from person to person in rare instances, according to the health department. Up to 80% of people who are infected will not display any signs of illness, but people with underlying health conditions can become seriously ill, the agency said.

“We are in the season when the West Nile virus can spread in Maryland,” state Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said his agency’s news release.


“We urge people to be vigilant and take steps to avoid infection and eliminate standing pools of water where mosquitoes can breed. Our teams are continuing to monitor mosquito activity across the state.”

The West Nile virus was detected in the United States for the first time in 1999. One confirmed case was identified in 2020, four in 2021 and a single infection in 2022, according to the health department.

Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash and swollen lymph glands and may last a few days or as long as several weeks.

Retired Maryland Zoo veterinarian and conservationist Dr. Mike Cranfield died in August after suffering from an unconfirmed case of West Nile virus, the Maryland Zoo said in an Aug. 31 news release. His brother told The Peterborough Examiner in Ontario that Cranfield apparently became infected in Canada while building a cabin.