HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – So far this year, one case of the West Nile Virus has been confirmed in Horry County, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
There have been a total of four confirmed cases in the state: one in Dorchester County, one in Horry County, and two in Richland County, according to an update posted by DHEC on Wednesday.
The virus has been detected in mosquitos in multiple locations throughout the state, DHEC stated.
The West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito, which becomes infected after feeding on infected birds, DHEC explains. It is common in birds, humans, and other animals in Africa, Australia, Eastern Europe, west Asia and the Middle East. It was first detected in North America in 1999.
While most people infected with the virus have no symptoms, about one in five people infected becomes ill within two to 14 days, DHEC states. Symptoms include fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, occasionally nausea and vomiting, and often sensitivity to light and inflammation of the eyelids. Some people may have a rash.
There is no cure for West Nile, but in mild cases, you can use remedies similar for other viruses, such as flu: drinking plenty of fluids, resting in bed, and taking medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve fever and discomfort. More severe cases may require hospitalization, respiratory support, and intravenous therapy.
According to DHEC, anyone experiencing severe or unusual headaches should see a doctor immediately, and anyone who has been in an area where the virus has been identified and who experiences high fever or other symptoms should see a doctor.
West Nile cannot be passed from person to person – the only way to get the virus is a bite from an infected mosquito, DHEC says.
DHEC offers the following tips for preventing contraction of the virus:
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting.
- Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
- Exposure to mosquitoes is most common during the early morning. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
- Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.
DHEC also says you can help track West Nile by submitted dead blue jays, crows, house sparrows, and house finches for testing. They are accepting submissions of birds through November 30, 2016.
For details on how to safely pick up and transport the birds to DHEC, visit: scdhec.gov/birdtesting