Samples of Beaufort County mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile virus according to a report released Friday by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
“Identifying mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus in our state is not uncommon,” said Chris Evans, a staff entomologist with the DHEC in Friday’s statement. “A positive identification should serve as a reminder of the importance of preventing mosquito bites. It's the most important step you can take to prevent the spread of illness from mosquitoes to humans.”
Even if you do contract West Nile, there is no need to panic. According to state epidemiologist Linda Bell, potentially fatal illnesses resulting from West Nile, like encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, are exceedingly rare, happening in less than a percent of the people infected.
There have been no confirmed human cases of West Nile in Beaufort County this year, though Bell advises that anyone with concerns about the virus or who develops symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.
The mosquitoes that carry West Nile tend to shy away from light, and are active mostly at night, though they can also be out at dusk and dawn and in shady areas during the day.
The DHEC stresses that the public has an important role in preventing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, and recommends deterring mosquitoes in the following ways:
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting.
- Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
- Exposure to mosquitoes is most common at night and during the early morning. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas.
- Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
- Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.
What are the symptoms of West Nile virus disease?
- No symptoms in most people. Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.
- Febrile illness in some people. 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. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
- Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.
This information was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq/genquestions.html.