Repair your screen windows and empty your birdbath frequently – the number of cases of the West Nile Virus in North Carolina is double the usual number.
That’s the message that state health officials put out on Monday, Sept.19.
If protecting yourself and your family against COVID-19 and Monkeypox wasn’t enough to keep you worried, now the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is warning you to take precautions against yet another disease.
While it sounds a little scary to say that the number of cases of West Nile Virus has doubled in the state, it’s a little less frightening than you understand that there have been four cases so far this year in the entire state of over 10 million people.
“The four reported cases of West Nile Virus is double the average number of cases at this point in the year,” the press release states. “The average number of cases by the end of August each year is two.”
Also making it less scary: the vast majority of people who get the disease experience no symptoms at all.
Only about 20 percent of infected people will develop a fever with other symptoms such as “headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.”
In roughly 1 percent of infections, the West Nile Virus results in serious medical issues such as encephalitis or meningitis. In very rare cases, it can lead to death.
State Public Health Entomologist Michael Doyle stated in the Sept. 19 press release that people should be on guard.
“Detecting a number of West Nile virus infections is a reminder to take precautions, especially because there are two months of active transmission season ahead of us,” he stated.
Fall is the time each year when most cases of mosquito-borne illnesses are reported, so NCDHHS recommends the following:
- Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET or other effective ingredients when in areas where you find mosquitoes. (Check out the guidelines at www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you before applying to children.)
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out – or keep windows and doors shut and use air conditioning.
- Eliminate mosquito breeding areas by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, old tires – and even from birdbaths at least once a week.
The West Nile Virus is one of several mosquito-borne viruses which may infect people in North Carolina. Others include eastern equine encephalitis virus and La Crosse virus.