Taking precautions following positive test for West Nile in mosquito

New Hanover County reports that a mosquito tested positive for the West Nile virus in Wilmington.

Dr. John Silvernail, the Pitt County Health Department Director, says the mosquito counts have been low in the county. James Gardener, the vector control manager for the county, says this is due to the heat and lack of water.

Gardener says since mosquitoes spend a large portion of their lives in water; they need it to survive. The populations have been so low, Silvernail says, that there hasn't been a need to spray.

Silvernail confirmed two probable cases of West Nile in the county in 2017 and two suspected cases in 2018. He says the county has taken the proper precautions as it pertains to mosquitoes.

"We do have a mosquito control program. We do trap and monitor our mosquitoes," Silvernail said.

Silvernail says the mosquito that carries and transmits West Nile is a mosquito that is active after dark. They don't transmit to each other; usually, it's to other animals such as birds.

Gardener says they have already put traps around the county. He agrees that normally his samples are in the thousands, but they haven't been nearly that high, lately.

Gardener said, "We are in surveillance mode year-round."

After hearing the news of the virus in Wilmington, mother of three, Holly Sanson, says she worries for her children.

Sanson said, "This is something very serious. It's been a long time since, I think, anybody's been confirmed, so, yea, I'm kind of a little bit worried."

The news made her think of how to protect her children.

"What areas to look for, what to be looking out while we're outside just to keep our kids clear and as safe as possible," Sanson said.

Dr. Silvernail offers these suggestions:

"If you're outside after dark; long sleeves, long pants, other various mosquito repellents available that one can use. And maybe just to avoid being outside after dark."

Gardener says one in ten people who contract the virus actually show symptoms. Silvernail also agrees that the chances are low.

"The vast majority of folks who get infected have no symptoms at all. Perhaps 70-80 percent of folks have no symptoms at all when they're infected with the virus," Silvernail said.

Gardener suggests avoiding leaving out containers with water and other trash because if not, the mosquitoes will show up. Silvernail says this breed of mosquitoes is container breeders.

"I've seen up to 100 larvae in a potato chip bag," Gardener said.

Gardener said to avoid leaving out anything that can hold water such as flower pots, grills, buckets, and so on. He also suggests cleaning up the neighborhood because they can get into the trash.

As far as protecting yourself, he says to dress, defend, and protect. Gardener suggests light clothing, rather than dark, and long sleeves.

He adds that studies show that mosquitoes favor the "O" blood type. He also suggests using Deet for a repellent.