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West Nile Case in Eastern Carolina

Officials have confirmed 2004's first reported human case of the West Nile Virus in Eastern Carolina.

From the Onslow County Health Department:

Onslow County Health Director George O'Daniel announced Thursday that an Onslow County man has been diagnosed with the West Nile Virus. O'Daniel said that the man, who is in his 70's, has been discharged from the hospital and is currently recovering. This is Onslow County's only case of human West Nile Virus infection to date.

"All Onslow County residents need to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile Virus," said O'Daniel. "Apply DEET-containing mosquito repellent according to the label directions and eliminate mosquito breeding places by doing things like removing any standing water around your house, such as in planters and flower pots."

"Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus to humans but the disease is not contagious; an infected person cannot infect another person," O’Daniel continued.

Although the virus is found in an infected person's blood, donated blood is screened for the virus to prevent transmission through blood transfusions.

Onslow County Mosquito and Vector Control personnel are continuing their daily efforts to control the mosquito population throughout the unincorporated areas of the county. These efforts are particularly important due to the large amount of rainfall the county has experienced over recent months. Rain gauges throughout the county monitor rainfall amounts, enabling personnel to target the areas with the heaviest rainfall for additional spraying.

The county regularly runs four mosquito spraying trucks throughout nearly 500 square miles of unincorporated area, spraying between 20 to 25 gallons of insecticide from dusk until approximately midnight and during the early morning hours when fresh water mosquitoes are active.

Spraying for salt-water mosquitoes, which are typically active during the day near the marshes in the southern part of the county, continues throughout the day. In addition, the county has been spraying a larvicide to kill mosquito larvae in ditches where there is standing water, paying particular attention to those areas near our public schools.

Mosquito and Vector Control Supervisor J.R. Batchelor stated, "We are doing the best we can to keep the mosquitoes under control. County residents can assist us in controlling the mosquito population by eliminating standing water on their property. Because we do much of our spraying at night, some citizens may assume we haven't been to their area. It's important to remember that the spray from our trucks only kills airborne mosquitoes."

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West Nile Virus Facts

  • The West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile Virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile Virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about three to six days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home. Remove standing water from any item or area that can hold water. Standing water is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face; spray on clothing, as well. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin and clothing.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

  • Stay inside at dawn and dusk because that is when mosquitoes are most active.

Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report


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