West Nile virus found in Summerville - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

West Nile virus found in Summerville

COLUMBIA - The first case of West Nile virus of the 2008 season has been confirmed by the state's Bureau of Laboratories, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Wednesday.

"Dorchester County has the state's first confirmed West Nile virus-positive of the season, an American crow found April 4 in Summerville," said Chris Evans, a Ph.D. entomologist with DHEC's Bureau of Laboratories.

DHEC Commissioner C. Earl Hunter is urging all residents of the state to continue their vigilance in finding and destroying mosquito breeding grounds around their homes. 

"We know that West Nile virus is in the state, so South Carolinians should continue to take steps to protect themselves and their families against West Nile virus and other diseases that mosquitoes might carry," Hunter said. 

Hunter urges people to protect themselves from mosquito bites by:

  • Using a repellent containing DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow the label directions when using any repellent
  • Keeping property clear of standing water in which mosquitoes can breed
  • Staying inside when mosquitoes are most active (dawn and dusk) or wearing long sleeves and pants
  • Keeping screens on windows and doors in good repair
  • Being aware of the symptoms of West Nile virus

"Most people infected with West Nile virus do not get sick, but if they do it can manifest itself in two different ways," said Lena Bretous, M.D., with DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control. "About 20 percent of those infected with the West Nile virus get a mild flu-like illness called West Nile fever, which lasts several weeks. People generally recover from West Nile fever, however sometimes recovery can take several weeks or months.

"About one of 150 people infected with the West Nile virus develops West Nile neuroinvasive disease. WNND is a more severe illness involving infection in the brain. People over the age of 50 are more at risk to develop WNND, which can cause death," Dr. Bretous said.

Evans says the public can help with West Nile virus surveillance by submitting dead crows or blue jays to a local DHEC County Environmental Health office. Check DHEC's website for information about how to safely submit dead birds.

Posted by Logan Smith

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