Time varies for confirmation of cases of West Nile virus.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- Although not all states require West Nile virus cases to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC labs are still processing 60 to 70 virus samples daily from throughout the nation, said Burnadette Burden, a CDC spokeswoman in Atlanta.
Burden said state health agencies have the capacity to test on their own, but the CDC is available to test as well, confirming West Nile virus in initial diagnosis or follow-up testing.
Burden said the time it takes to complete tests varies from case to case. Some can be completed within 24 hours, while others require a more lengthy analysis and can take seven to 10 days or more, she said.
She said most requests for testing by the CDC have come from state health agencies.
"They seek us out," she said. "We're here to help."
Ohio requires that West Nile virus cases be confirmed by the CDC, said Kristopher Weiss, an Ohio Department of Health spokesman.
Samples are sent to a CDC laboratory in Fort Collins, Colo.
Weiss said samples to be tested can be spinal fluid, blood serum or autopsy samples. He said ODH labs have processed about 112 samples this summer, most in July and August.
The CDC has confirmed two West Nile cases in Ohio so far.
Locally, Dr. Emil Dickstein of Austintown said samples from Jean Shellenbarger, 44, of Fairfield Township, Columbiana County, were processed by a local lab, then by an independent lab in Michigan. The Michigan lab was to send Shellenbarger's blood sample to the CDC.
Burden said she could not comment on specific requests for CDC testing or specific cases.
Dr. Dickstein diagnosed Shellenbarger with West Nile virus Aug. 6 based on her blood work.
Shellenbarger is treating a rash and has headaches but continues to spend many hours each day in the flower gardens outside her home, where she believes she was bitten by an infected mosquito.
Information on West Nile virus is available on the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov. There are links to specific information such as West Nile virus symptoms, tips for avoiding mosquitoes, and case counts and trends.