West Nile virus detected in Columbia

West Nile virus detected in Columbia

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A sample of mosquitos trapped in the Shandon area has tested positive for West Nile virus, according to county and city officials and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

DHEC says they were notified on Tuesday of the virus-positive mosquitos taken from the Shandon/Five Points area, which is an area where many homes and business are located.

"It is not uncommon for us to identify mosquitoes carrying the virus in our state," Chris Evans, Ph.D. and DHEC's staff entomologist said. "This identification is a reminder of the importance of preventing mosquito bites. It's the most important step you can take to prevent the spread of illness from mosquitoes to humans."

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About one in five people infected with West Nile become ill within two to 14 days. The symptoms may include fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and occasionally nausea and vomiting. Some more severe symptoms of the illness include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, seizures, or paralysis.

"Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms," Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist said. "The risk of serious illness is low as less than one percent of people infected develop a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain, known as encephalitis."

DHEC says residents should pay attention to the most effective ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting.
  • Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
  • Exposure to mosquitoes is most common at night and during the early morning. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas.
  • Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.

"We have sprayed areas around Shandon, Rosewood, Five Points and the Vista in our efforts to control these mosquitoes," Tammy Brewer, director of Richland County Vector Control said. "Our trucks conduct spraying during nighttime hours when these mosquito species are most active. The insecticide that we use is very effective, and was selected because it should have a quick knockdown."

DHEC says dead birds can help them and local partners track West Nile virus. They say residents can report the findings of dead birds. Submissions of dead birds will be accepted by DHEC through November 30, 2016.

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