Brunswick County officials have reported earlier this week they found the first sample of the year of mosquitoes testing positively for West Nile virus. Public health officials from the county are urging residents to take the appropriate precautions to prevent mosquito bites, as mosquito activity has increased due to recent heavy rains.
A news release from Brunswick County said the positive sample was collected on September 22, and the mosquitoes testing positive for the virus are frequently drawn more to dogs and horses than to people. At this time no one from the county has been diagnosed with the virus.
According to local officials, the county’s mosquito control division actively monitors mosquito population trends throughout the county and conducts “adulticiding” efforts as the mosquito populations fluctuate.
Mosquito Control will be spraying mosquitoes daily to address the increased mosquito population from the recent rains, but county officials are warning residents that “every citizen needs to do their part to avoid being bitten… Sometimes the solution is as easy as going in the house a little earlier than you usually would,” according to the release.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes, David Stanley, the Brunswick County Health and Human Services Executive Director, urges residents to wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and apply mosquito repellant. If using repellant with DEET, make sure to follow label instructions, and keep DEET out of the eyes, mouth and nose.
“We just can’t stress this message enough – you need to be careful, taking every possible precaution to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes,” said Stanley.
While mosquitoes are most active from August to October, other local counties, such as New Hanover County, have not reported any mosquitoes containing the virus.
According to Ruth Ravitz Smith, Chief Communications Officer for New Hanover County stated “as of Tuesday morning, there has not been any evidence of West Nile virus in our mosquito traps, but we will continue spraying for mosquitoes throughout the county.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) reported the first death and confirmed case of West Nile virus near the Durham area on September 8.
According to the NC DHHS, mosquito-borne diseases such as the West Nile virus infection usually cause either no symptoms or mild, flu-like illness. Most people, about 70 percent to 80 percent, who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. However, it can cause more serious conditions, including encephalitis, meningitis and meningoencephalitis in about one percent of cases, and those can be fatal. There have been 13 cases of West Nile virus reported from 2010 through 2014.
James Mieczkowski is a news reporter for Port City Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @mieczkowskiPCD