West Nile Virus identified locally, preventative measures recommended

Posted July 29, 2022 at 3:50 pm     Category: News ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – West Nile Virus has been identified through laboratory testing as the cause of a recent case of encephalitis in a New Hanover County resident.

“This virus is not common in our area but can be present in some animals and is sometimes transferred to humans by a mosquito. This individual has not recently traveled outside of New Hanover County and therefore it is likely they contracted the virus locally,” said Public Health Director David Howard. “This single case is not cause for alarm, and, at this time, we consider risk to be low to our community. But we want everyone to be diligent in preventing mosquito breeding and avoiding mosquito bites, which lowers the risk for everyone.”

To help keep the mosquito population limited, outdoor vessels should regularly be “tipped and tossed” of standing water as only a small amount can breed mosquitos within just a few days. Additionally, individuals should use EPA-approved insect repellent according to instructions on the label when outdoors. Other options to limit mosquito bites include wearing long sleeves and pants and limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when most mosquitoes are known to be most active.

New Hanover County Public Health’s vector control team monitors mosquito activity throughout the county and controls the mosquito population through active trapping, testing and treating known breeding environments with larvicide to kill larvae before they hatch. Vector control also kills adult mosquitos with ultra-low volume spraying with EPA-registered pesticide approved for public health use in urban environments.

To report mosquito activity or concerns or sign up for spraying alerts, visit Health.NHCgov.com.

More information about West Nile Virus

According to information provided by the CDC, approximately 80 percent of individuals who contract West Nile Virus experience no symptoms.

For the other 20 percent, mild symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach or back. These symptoms may last for a few days but could potentially linger for several weeks.

In rare cases, severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects could become permanent. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 150 West Nile Virus cases result in severe symptoms.

Additional information about West Nile Virus can be found by visiting the CDC here.

Preventing mosquito-borne illness

  • Use EPA registered mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) when outside. Use caution when applying to children.
  • If using mosquito treatment on one’s property, use as directed on the product label.
  • Reduce outdoor time, especially at dawn, dusk and early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors and use air conditioning if possible.
  • “Tip and Toss” to empty standing water of a teaspoon or more to reduce mosquito breeding. This includes flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, tires, birdbaths, etc.

Find more mosquito prevention tips and information on the New Hanover County Public Health website and learn more about West Nile Virus by visiting the CDC website.

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