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Case of West Nile virus confirmed in Cumberland County

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State health officials have confirmed a case of neuroinvasive West Nile virus in Cumberland County, the first reported case this year, county officials said.

The case was confirmed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the county Health Department said in a release Thursday.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause serious, life-altering disease or death, the state Department of Health and Human Services says on its website.

“We all need to take personal precautions to protect ourselves and loved ones from mosquito bites and thus reduce our risk of infection,” Dr. Jennifer Green, the Cumberland County health director, said in the release. “Use of an EPA-approved repellent is an effective method to keep infected mosquitoes from biting.”

The young, elderly and immunocompromised populations are at the greatest risk, the release said.

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not have any symptoms, the state Department of Health and Human Services says on its website. Some people will have mild symptoms such as fever, nausea and rash.

Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, which is inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues, the county Health Department said in its release. The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis, the release said.

The Health Department offered these tips to help eliminate mosquito breeding and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease:

  • Treat standing water in containers and low areas around the home with EPA-approved larvicides.
  • Tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, wading pools, buckets and any containers that can hold water, including saucers under flowerpots.
  • Store out-of-service or un-mounted tires under cover to prevent the collection of water.
  • Replace corrugated downspout extensions with smooth extensions to prevent larvae from growing in water-holding extension grooves.
  • Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week.
  • Keep gutters clean and in good repair, and repair leaky outdoor faucets.
  • When possible, drain any standing water on your property such as puddles and ditches that hold water for more than four days after rain.
  • Make sure rain barrels have tight-fitting screens or lids.
  • Use screened windows and doors, and make sure screens fit tightly and are not torn.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors, which also repels ticks. 
  • Wear long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, or stay indoors during these hours.

For more information about West Nile virus and mosquitoes, visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website at epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/diseases/wnv.html or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

Cumberland County, West Nile virus, mosquitoes