For the first time ever, two human cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed within a year in Beaufort County.
This year’s cases account for two of three cases ever confirmed in the county. The first was reported less than two weeks after Hurricane Matthew hit South Carolina last year.
In early July, Beaufort County saw the first human case of the mosquito-borne virus in South Carolina this year. Then, within a few weeks, another case was confirmed, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported on Friday.
So far this year, four cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed in South Carolina residents. A fifth case was confirmed in a person who was visiting the state.
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Anderson, Greenville and Richland counties account for the additional three cases in the state.
Gregg Hunt, Beaufort County Mosquito Control director, told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette in July, that Hurricane Matthew “has played a major role” in the increase of mosquito activities.
“After Hurricane Matthew, a lot of debris had fallen into standing water caused by the flooding and tidal waves,” he said at the time. “And organic material decaying in the water produces an ideal breeding ground for that kind of mosquito (that carries West Nile). ... That’s what set the tone after the hurricane.”
Hunt also told the Packet and the Gazette earlier this month that Beaufort County beehives may also be increasing some residents’ risks of catching West Nile.
Because pesticides used to control disease-spreading mosquito populations could also kill bees, there are large swaths of the county where those populations go untreated, he said.
“We can’t use the (mosquito control) aircraft (in most of) the Sheldon area, the Big Estate area and the Chisolm (Islands) area,” Hunt said. “It’s not worth the risk.”
Symptoms of the virus can vary depending on the person, and some affected individuals may not even experience any symptoms, according to DHEC.
About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, according to a DHEC.
Still fewer people will experience severe symptoms. Less than 1 percent of people who are infected will develop a serious neurological illness, with symptoms that include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma or seizures.