UNION COUNTY — A human case of West Nile Virus has been confirmed in Union County and the county is taking steps to try and prevent further infections.
In a statement released this morning, Union County Supervisor Frank Hart announced that the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control had notified the county “of a confirmed human case of the West Nile Virus. One individual in the Jonesville area of the county was confirmed to have been infected with the virus.”
Hart said that “while it cannot be determined for sure that this individual contracted the mosquito-borne infection in Union County, the County is following recommended DHEC procedures to reduce the chance of spreading the illness.”
Those steps include:
• Spraying for adult mosquitoes near the reported case.
• Removing mosquito habitats such as standing water ranging from wastewater areas to bird baths, old tires, or any container that holds water.
• Treating mosquito larvae, especially in storm drains with leaf litter or any other containers that cannot be turned over or discarded
• Conducting door-to-door visits near the reported case to provided information pamphlets and assist residents with looking for areas where mosquitoes may reproduce.
West Nile Virus
According to the DHEC website (www.scdhec.gov/westnile/) West Nile Virus “is a disease transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on infected birds.”
The website states that West Nile virus “is common in birds, humans and other animals in Africa, Australia, Eastern Europe, west Asia and the Middle East.”
It further states that the virus “was first detected in North America in 1999, and has since spread across the continental United States and Canada.”
The website states that “most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms. About one in five people infected becomes ill within two to 14 days with symptoms including fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and occasionally nausea and vomiting. Often they experience sensitivity to light and inflammation of the eyelids. Some may have a rash.”
It stresses that “the risk of serious illness is low. Less than one percent of people infected develop a potentially fatal swelling of the brain, known as encephalitis.”
The website states that “there is no specific cure for West Nile virus. In mild cases, you should use the same remedies you would for other viruses, such as the flu: drinking plenty of water and fluids, resting in bed, and taking medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve fever and discomfort. In more severe cases treatment may include hospitalization, respiratory support and intravenous therapy.”
It recommends that “anyone experiencing severe or unusual headaches should see a doctor as soon as possible. Also, anyone who has been in an area where the virus has been identified and who experiences high fever, muscle weakness, confusion or severe headaches should see a doctor immediately.”
The website states that “West Nile virus cannot be passed from person to person. The only way to get the virus is from the bite of an infected mosquito.”
It points out that “the virus actually starts with a bird, usually a crow. It spreads when a mosquito bites a bird that has the virus in their blood. The mosquito then can spread the virus to other birds, animals or people, when it bites during feeding. In areas where the virus has been identified, very few, much less than 1%, of the mosquitoes are infected.”
The press release states that individuals should pay attention to the most effective ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses:
• 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.
• Wear light-colored clothing to cover the skin reduces the risk of bites.
The DHEC website adds that “exposure to mosquitoes is most common 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.”
The website states that the public can help DHEC track the virus “by submitting dead blue jays, crows, house sparrows, and house finches for testing. Instructions on how to safely pick up and transport a bird to the closest DHEC local county health department or Environmental Quality Control office is available online at scdhec.gov/birdtesting.”
DHEC is accepting submission of birds for testing through Nov. 30.
The press release states that persons wanting more information “about preventing mosquito bites and the spread of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses,” should go to www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes. It also states that to “learn more about West Nile virus at www.scdhec.gov/westnile. Residents with additional questions may contact Union County at 864-427-8481.”
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