CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging people to take precautions to prevent mosquito-borne illness following recent cases of West Nile virus across the state.
The four reported human cases of West Nile Virus are double the average number of cases at this point in the year, NCDHHS said.
The average number of cases by the end of August each year is two.
While the majority of people who become infected with WNV usually experience either no symptoms or a mild, flu-like illness, about 20 percent of infected people will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash, health officials said.
In about one percent of infections, WNV causes serious conditions, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord), and meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissues), NCDHHS said.
Health officials said WNV can lead to death in some cases.
Detecting a number of West Nile virus infections is a reminder to take precautions, especially because there are two months of active transmission season ahead of us. People should take precautions when outside to wear mosquito repellent and by emptying standing water on their property to reduce mosquito breeding near their homes.
Michael Doyle, State Public Health Entomologist
Fall is the time of year when most cases of mosquito-borne illnesses are reported, and with already higher-than-average cases, NCDHHS recommends the following precautions:
- Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) when outside in areas where mosquitoes might be present.
- Use caution when applying to children. See www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you for repellants that will work for you and your family.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Or keep windows and doors closed and use air conditioning if possible.
- Reduce mosquito breeding by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least once a week.
- If you think you or a family member might have WNV disease, talk with your health care provider.