The Coastal Health District has confirmed one West Nile Virus (WNV)-associated death and two additional human cases of WNV in Chatham County. These are the first confirmed human cases in the county or the Coastal Health District this year; however, WNV activity in mosquito populations has been detected and reported by Chatham County Mosquito Control and public health since July.
Statewide, there have been a total of 31 confirmed human cases and five deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 8 in 10 of people infected with WNV will show no symptoms at all; about 1 in 5 will develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash; and about 1 in 150 will develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system.
“West Nile Virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and once we know the virus is in the mosquito population we know that, unfortunately, there is a threat to people who live in that same population of contracting the virus,” said Lawton Davis, M.D., district health director for the Coastal Health District. “We continue to urge residents to do everything they can to keep from getting bitten by mosquitoes and to reduce mosquito breeding around their homes and neighborhoods.”
Mosquitoes that carry WNV are more likely to bite during the evening, night, and early morning. Wearing EPA-approved insect repellant containing at least 20-30 percent DEET will help keep mosquitoes away and eliminating standing water around the home and yard will help stop them from breeding.
Tip containers such as children’s toys, flowerpots, and planters after every rain or at least once a week and toss out anything that holds water, such as old tires or cans. Also clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves, and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes.
Chatham County Mosquito Control will continue to take steps to reduce the mosquito population and residents should expect to see Mosquito Control’s low flying, yellow helicopters on a regular basis throughout the county.
The 5Ds of mosquito bite prevention can also help prevent mosquito bites and breeding:
- Dusk/Dawn – Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
- Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
- DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
- Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water – buckets, barrels, flower pots, tarps – because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
- Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.