UNION COUNTY — Authorities are taking additional steps to stop the spread of the West Nile Virus in Union County after the discovery of the first human case of the disease in the county.
In a statement released Friday night, Union County Emergency Management Division Director Rob Fraim announced that around 6 p.m. that evening his office was notified by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) that a resident of the Town of Jonesville had tested positive for the West Nile Virus.
Fraim said that in response, Emergency Management has arranged for a water-spraying of pestice to eradicate the mosquito population within a mile of the targeted area. While the pesticide does not pose a health risk to humans or animals, Fraim said beekeepers in the area should cover their hives until spraying has been completed in the targeted area.
On Monday, Fraim said Emergency Management personnel will be going door to door in the Town of Jonesville with information about West Nile Virus and checking outside of residences for areas where mosquitos could be.
In an interview with The Union Times this morning, Fraim said it is his understanding that the person who tested positive for West Nile Virus is doing better since they began receiving treatment for the disease.
Fraim said that when Emergency Management personnel go door to door in Jonesville on Monday, they will be handing out pamphlets with information about the West Nile Virus including what it is and its symptoms. He said personnel will be checking around the residences for any standing water because that is the habitat mosquitos breed in.
While no exact date has been set for the spraying of the pesticide, Fraim said it will be done sometime next week.
The diagnosis of the county’s first case of human West Nile Virus comes less than two weeks after the virus was discovered in a bird found at a residence in the vicinity of the Union County Airport. In response, the Emergency Management Division had the area within a half mile radius of that residence sprayed with water-based pesticide to eradicate the mosquito population within that area.
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.”
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.
— Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
— Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
— Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
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.
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.
• 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).
• 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).
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.