Local mosquitoes have West Nile Virus: some tips on how to protect yourself

West Nile Virus Mosquito (Photo: MGN)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Recent testing of mosquitoes trapped by New Hanover County Public Health’s mosquito control team confirmed some were positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).

According to a release by the county’s government, the public should not be alarmed, but should be vigilant in protecting themselves from mosquito bites as much as possible.

“Human incidence of West Nile Virus is rare, but it is a dangerous disease. So with the knowledge that the virus has been found locally in several mosquitoes, it is important for our community to be aware and protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites,” said Public Health Director David Howard.

“First and foremost, we encourage every resident to eliminate all standing water around their homes several times a week by “tipping and tossing” all water. Only a small amount of water, the size of a bottle cap, can breed mosquitos. Also, use EPA approved insect repellent, consider wearing long sleeves and pants, and limit outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when many mosquito species are most active.”

New Hanover County Public Health’s Mosquito Control division monitors mosquito activity throughout the county, including coastal areas, and helps control the mosquito population through active surveillance, community education, treating areas with larvicide to kill mosquito larvae before they hatch, and targeted ultra-low volume spraying with EPA-registered pesticide approved for public health use to kill adult mosquitos when mosquito populations are higher.

As part of a comprehensive surveillance system, the vector control team monitors mosquito volumes, species, and testing for diseases through NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

From this regular testing, NCDHHS notified New Hanover County that mosquitoes from four traps in the county had recently tested positive for WNV.

Those traps are located in four different parts of the county: Castle Hayne, near Greenfield and Front streets, the Middle Sound area, and near Snow’s Cut. Two of the areas (Sunset/Greenfield and Snow’s Cut) are scheduled to be sprayed this week, one area is scheduled for next week (Middle Sound), and the fourth trap area (Castle Hayne) is in a heavily wooded area far from human population.

To report mosquito activity or concerns, and sign up for spraying alerts, visit Health.NHCgov.com.

Preventing mosquito-borne illness

  • Use EPA registered mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) when outside. Use caution when applying to children.
  • If using mosquito treatment on your property, use as directed on the product label.
  • Reduce time spent outdoors, especially at dawn, dusk and early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors, and use air conditioning if possible.
  • “Tip and Toss” to reduce mosquito breeding by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least twice a week.

About West Nile Virus (WNV)

WNV is spread to humans by a mosquito that contracted the virus from a bird it fed on. The virus is consistently present in some bird populations.

Most people experience no symptoms, and approximately 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all. In some, up to 20 percent of those infected, symptoms can include fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. These symptoms may last for a few days but may linger for several weeks.

Rarely in a small number of individuals, about one in 150 people infected with WNV, severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

Find more mosquito prevention tips and information on the New Hanover County Public Health website and learn more on the CDC website here.

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