SALEM — A North Salem resident has contracted West Nile virus, health officials announced yesterday.
The Salem Board of Health alerted residents to the diagnosis yesterday afternoon, after receiving confirmation from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Salem resident Maureen Carr said the West Nile patient, a woman in her 70s, is a member of her family. The family received a West Nile diagnosis from a local doctor at Salem Hospital on Monday.
It’s been a rough week for the family, Carr said.
Carr said her relative was very sick and was hospitalized in intensive care for three days. As the week wore on, the family became increasingly frustrated that city officials were not letting residents know about the diagnosis.
“We feel people should have been notified sooner. Time is of the essence with something like this,” Carr said. “... I think it’s important that people know.”
Carr, who is a nurse practitioner, stressed that she spoke with the Salem News yesterday on behalf of her family and not in a professional capacity.
The relative is still recovering in a local rehabilitation facility, Carr said. The family is certain she contracted the mosquito-borne virus in Salem, since she had not been outside the city recently.
“It’s just so sad. It happened so quickly, out of the blue,” Carr said. “This was an extremely healthy woman. ... She was at my son’s wedding a few weeks ago, dancing. We say our prayers and hope things turn around.”
Salem Health Agent Larry Ramdin said protocol dictates that the public is not notified of a West Nile diagnosis until test results from a local doctor can be confirmed by a state lab. The Salem Board of Health did not receive state confirmation until yesterday afternoon, he said.
This marks the second human case of West Nile announced in Essex County this week. On Monday, state health officials said an Essex County man in his 60s contracted the virus, was hospitalized, released and is expected to be OK.