South Carolina

First SC death from West Nile Virus reported. What can you do to avoid the disease?

The West Nile Virus has claimed its first South Carolina victim of 2017, the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reports.

The individual who died was a resident of Anderson County, the DHEC said. No additional information about them was released.

"If you develop fever or other symptoms after being bitten by a mosquito, you should contact your health care provider," said Dr. Melissa Overman, SC Assistant State Epidemiologist in the DHEC’s release.

So far in the Palmetto State this year, seven human cases of the virus have been detected in people, while 10 infected birds and 55 infected mosquitoes have been found, according to the DHEC.

The risk of death from West Nile Virus is typically very low, the DHEC said, with less than a percent of infected people developing encephalitis, a potentially fatal swelling of the brain.

About 20 percent of people infected exhibit symptoms within two to 14 days, according to the DHEC. Symptoms can include fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. People often experience eyelid inflammation and light sensitivity, and some may develop a rash.

Most people, the DHEC reports, remain asymptomatic, though, and may not ever know that they have the disease.

Regardless, the DHEC stresses the importance of doing what you can to prevent West Nile and other mosquito borne viruses.

Michael Olinger: 843-706-8107, @mikejolinger

DHEC tips to prevent mosquito borne illness

▪ Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting. Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions.

▪ 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.

▪ Wearing light-colored clothing to cover the skin reduces the risk of bites.

- South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control