West Nile virus found in mosquitoes in Beaufort

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJuly 31, 2012 

  • How to keep the mosquitoes away

    The West Nile virus has been discovered in the city of Beaufort, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. It most typically is spread to humans by mosquitoes, so the department recommends:

  • Using insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or IR 3535.
  • Wearing clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.

  • Removing standing water, where mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs.

  • Submitting birds that have recently died and do not show signs of injury to the local county environmental health department.

    Many mosquitoes catch the virus from birds, and testing the birds helps officials track West Nile. A list of local departments is available at

The West Nile virus was found in a test of mosquitoes in the city of Beaufort in July, but a county spokeswoman said the area has been treated and re-treated and that recent tests were negative.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reports four cases of West Nile have been confirmed in animals and four in humans in the state. Three of the human cases were confirmed last week in Lexington, Richland and Orangeburg counties. The first confirmed case of the year was reported shortly before in Charleston County.

In addition to the human cases, West Nile has been detected in one dead crow in Columbia; in one horse in Fort Mill, which is just south of Charlotte; and in mosquitoes in Richland County.

Beaufort County spokeswoman Joy Nelson confirmed that West Nile was found within Beaufort city limits, but would not provide a more precise location. Beaufort County Mosquito Control has treated the area weekly since the discovery, and the virus was not found in a subsequent test of the affected area, Nelson said.

The county will continue normal monitoring and treatment against mosquitoes, she added.

According to DHEC, this is the first confirmed case of West Nile in Beaufort County since 2003, when nine birds tested positive.

Mosquito spraying began in February, which is earlier than normal in Beaufort County, mosquito control director Gregg Hunt said in April. The warm winter promoted an early mosquito season, he said, and he predicted a problem year.

West Nile virus is a bird disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. It has been in the state for a decade and typically shows up in the summer as mosquito populations peak. Most who contract the virus never develop problems, but some suffer flu-like symptoms. Less than 1 percent of those infected with West Nile have life-threatening inflammation of the spinal cord or brain.

West Nile diagnoses are rare. In South Carolina, nobody tested positive for West Nile virus in 2011, and only one did in 2010.

Joey Holleman of The (Columbia) State contributed to this report.

Related content

  1. Mosquitoes swarm Beaufort County, Oct. 11, 2011
  2. Beaufort County mosquito-spraying efforts ramp up in response to complaints, April 3, 2012
  3. Beaufort County sees uptick in seasonal irritants: pollen and mosquitoes, March 22, 2012

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