BE CAREFUL WITH MOSQUITOES DUE TO WEST NILE VIRUS THREAT
By Andy BrackShare this article:
A Charleston County woman is the first person this year in the state to test positive for West Nile virus, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced late last week.
Yikes. If that doesn't chill you to the bone, then what will?
“This woman was identified as positive for the virus after donating blood,” interim state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said in a news release.
“All donated blood is routinely screened for WNV to ensure the safety of our blood supply. Fortunately, she is recovering from her illness.”
What's worrisome, particularly with all of the rain we've been having, is the potential for the virus to grow. Fortunately, a perfect storm of events has to occur for humans to get the virus, a disease of birds transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on infected birds. People bitten by an infected mosquito may become ill within two to 14 days with flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and occasionally, nausea and vomiting, according to DHEC. Often they experience sensitivity to light and inflammation of the eyelids. Some may have a rash.
“The most important step anyone can take to prevent West Nile virus infection is to protect against being bitten by a mosquito,” Bell said. “The risk of serious illness is low. Less than 1 percent of people infected develop a potentially fatal swelling of the brain, known as encephalitis.”
So far this year in South Carolina, in addition to the person from Charleston County, the virus has been detected in one dead crow, one horse and one mosquito pool.
Be careful ... DHEC recommends citizens pay attention to the “four Ds” as the most effective ways to prevent West Nile virus:
DEET -- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
DRESS -- Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
DAWN & DUSK -- Exposure to mosquitoes is most common during the early morning and evening so it is important to wear repellent at that time. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
DRAIN -- Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish (available from your local mosquito and vector control agency) or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae.
Andy Brack is publisher of Charleston Currents and Statehouse Report. He can be reached at: email@example.com