Keeping safe from West Nile Virus

By: By Charles Warner - [email protected]
Courtesy photo A bird found at a residence near the Union County Airport tested positive for West Nile Virus Wednesday morning. The Union County Emergency Management Division responded by having water-based pesticide sprayed in the area to wipe out the mosquitoes which transmit the disease. There are, however, steps the public can and should take to reduce their risk of contracting the disease during mosquito season.

UNION COUNTY — There’s an old and very wise saying about how an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure and that’s the philosophy behind the actions taken by Union County Emergency Management Division — and actions that the public should be taking — following the discovery of West Nile Virus in a bird Wednesday morning.

The Virus

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) West Nile Virus “is a virus most commonly spread to people by mosquito bites. In North America, cases of West Nile virus (WNV) occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. WNV cases have been reported in all of the continental United States. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not have symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.”

Local Response

In a statement released Wednesday, Union County Emergency Management Division Director Rob Fraim announced that a bird found at a residence in the vicinity of Union County Airport that morning had been tested by DHEC and was found to be positive for the West Nile Virus.

Fraim said that there are no human cases of the disease in Union County, but that his department had arranged for a water-based spraying of pesticide to eradicate the mosquito population within a half mile radius of the target address Wednesday evening.

While the pesticide did not pose a health risk to humans or animals, Fraim advised beekeepers in the area to relocate or cover their hives until spraying had been completed in the target area.

Fraim said Thursday morning that the spraying began around 7:35 p.m. Wednesday and that he had received no reports of any problems with the spraying. He said he had also received no reports of anyone being infected with the disease. Fraim said that his department in cooperation with DHEC will continue to monitor the situation. He said that anyone who finds a a dead bird should call Union County Animal Control at 864-429-2808 which will in turn notify his department.

The spraying of the pesticide was the ounce of prevention that the Emergency Management Division took to help the community avoid having to attempt to have a pound of cure in battling an outbreak of West Nile Virus in Union County.

While destroying the mosquitoes in the area around where the bird with the virus was found is an important part of preventing an outbreak of West Nile Virus in Union County, the public can do its part to help prevent such an outbreak.

Prevention

The CDC website states that people can reduce their risk of getting the virus by taking the following precautions:

• Use Insect Repellent

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

— DEET

— Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)

— IR3535

— Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)

— Para-menthane-diol (PMD)

— 2-undecanone

The website recommends using EPA’s search tool (www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you) to find the insect repellent that’s right for you.

• Tips For Babies And Children

— Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.

— Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.

— Instead, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.

— Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.

— Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.

— Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.

— Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

• Tips For Everyone

— Always follow the product label instructions.

— Reapply insect repellent as directed.

º Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

º If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

• Natural Insect Repellents

(Repellents not registered with EPA.)

— The website stats “we do not know the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents.”

— To protect yourself against diseases spread by mosquitoes, CDC and EPA recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent.

— Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness.

— Visit the EPA website (www.epa.gov/insect-repellents) to learn more.

• Wear Long-Sleeved Shirts And Long Pants

— Use permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

º Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes.

º Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings.

º Read product information to find out how long the protection will last.

If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions.

— Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.

• Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors

— Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.

— Use air conditioning, if available.

— Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water.

º Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.

º Check indoors and outdoors.

Symptoms

Prevention is especially important because, while the website states that most people infected with the virus never develop any symptoms, some do, and they can be severe and even fatal.

No symptoms in most people. Most people (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.

Febrile illness (fever) in some people. About 1 in 5 people who are infected 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.

Serious symptoms in a few people. About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

• Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

• Severe illness can occur in people of any age; however, people over 60 years of age are at greater risk. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk.

• Recovery from severe illness might take several weeks or months. Some effects to the central nervous system might be permanent.

• About 1 out of 10 people who develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system die.

Diagnosis

• The website states that you should see your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above.

• Your healthcare provider can order tests to look for West Nile virus infection.

• To learn more about testing, visit the CDC’s Healthcare Providers page (www.cdc.gov/westnile/healthcareproviders/healthCareProviders-Diagnostic.html).

Treatment

• No vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for West Nile virus infection are available.

• Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms

• In severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.

• If you think you or a family member might have West Nile virus disease, talk with your health care provider.

• To learn more about treatment, visit the CDC’s Healthcare Providers page (www.cdc.gov/westnile/healthcareproviders/healthCareProviders-Diagnostic.html).

Courtesy photo A bird found at a residence near the Union County Airport tested positive for West Nile Virus Wednesday morning. The Union County Emergency Management Division responded by having water-based pesticide sprayed in the area to wipe out the mosquitoes which transmit the disease. There are, however, steps the public can and should take to reduce their risk of contracting the disease during mosquito season.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_web1_Mosquito_2007-2-1.jpgCourtesy photo A bird found at a residence near the Union County Airport tested positive for West Nile Virus Wednesday morning. The Union County Emergency Management Division responded by having water-based pesticide sprayed in the area to wipe out the mosquitoes which transmit the disease. There are, however, steps the public can and should take to reduce their risk of contracting the disease during mosquito season.
Steps being taken and that can be taken

By Charles Warner

[email protected]

Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.

Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.