Maryland reports first 2023 human case of West Nile virus

Maryland health officials have reported the first 2023 human case of West Nile virus in the state.

The first case of the year was reported in an adult living in the Eastern Shore region who tested positive.

Officials say the patient is recovering from the infection.

West Nile is transmitted to humans via infected mosquitoes that have fed on birds that have the virus. Officials say in rare instances, the virus may be spread from person to person through organ donation, blood transfusion, breastfeeding or from pregnant mother to fetus.

The disease affects the nervous system, health officials say. As many as 80 percent of people who are infected will not display any signs of illness. People who are older than 50, or who have underlying health conditions, could become seriously ill.

Some people who do develop illness may experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. The symptoms may last a few days or as long as several weeks.

"We are in the season when the West Nile virus can spread in Maryland," said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman in a statement. "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."

West Nile virus was detected in the United States for the first time in 1999.

A single confirmed case in the state was identified 2020. Four cases were identified in 2021. One infection was identified in 2022.

More information about West Nile can be found online.