West Nile Virus found in New Hanover County

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A recent case of encephalitis in a New Hanover County resident was caused by the West Nile Virus, according to a news release from New Hanover County.

The virus, which can be present in some animals, is transferred to humans by a mosquito. New Hanover County says the resident has not recently traveled outside of the county, so it’s likely they contracted the virus locally. The virus was identified through laboratory testing.

“This single case is not cause for alarm, and, at this time, we consider risk to be low to our community. But we want everyone to be diligent in preventing mosquito breeding and avoiding mosquito bites, which lowers the risk for everyone,” said Public Health Director David Howard.

The county says to help keep the mosquito population limited, standing water should be removed from outdoor containers as only a small amount can breed mosquitos within just a few days.

Also, people should use EPA-approved insect repellent according to instructions on the label when outdoors. Other options to limit mosquito bites include wearing long sleeves and pants and limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when most mosquitoes are known to be most active.

New Hanover County Public Health’s vector control team monitors mosquito activity throughout the county and controls the mosquito population through active trapping, testing and treating known breeding environments with larvicide to kill larvae before they hatch.

To report mosquito activity or concerns or sign up for spraying alerts, click here.

According to information provided by the CDC, approximately 80 percent of individuals who contract West Nile Virus experience no symptoms.

For the other 20 percent, mild symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach or back. These symptoms may last for a few days but could potentially linger for several weeks.

In rare cases, 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 could become permanent.

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