Carroll County health officials said yesterday that the threat of the West Nile virus has diminished for this season after the county's first frost last week.
"Thursday night we got a pretty hard frost," said Larry L. Leitch, Carroll County health officer. "For all intents and purposes, that should halt the West Nile virus season in the county."
The Health Department reported Thursday the county's first death from a West Nile-related illness. But yesterday, Leitch said the victim of the mosquito-borne illness lived in Howard County.
Carroll County has not had any deaths related to the virus, which is carried by birds but transmitted by mosquitoes to other birds, horses and people.
The 77-year-old woman, who lived near Sykesville in Howard County, was admitted Sept. 14 to Carroll County General Hospital and died there Sept. 27, officials said.
The condition of an 89- year-old Finksburg woman who tested positive for the virus has improved slightly, Leitch said. Two younger Carroll County residents also had blood tests that were listed as suspected cases, he said, but they did not become seriously ill.
Statewide as of yesterday afternoon, 26 cases of West Nile virus - 20 confirmed and six probable - from 10 jurisdictions were reported, said J.B. Hanson, deputy director of public relations for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"Other samples are still in the laboratory in the process of being tested," which could take two weeks, he said.
He said it would take a couple of nights of below-freezing temperatures to eliminate the threat.