West Nile virus identified in Mecklenburg County

CHARLOTTE — The State Laboratory of Public Health identified West Nile virus in a mosquito collected in Central Mecklenburg County on July 14.

There have not been any residents in the county who have contracted the West Nile virus this year, officials said.

Mosquitoes spread the virus within the wild bird population and can transmit it to humans through a single bite. Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus either don’t have any symptoms or they get a mild, flu-like illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, about 20% of people who infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash.

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In about 1% of infections, the West Nile virus can cause a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

There are no West Nile virus vaccines licensed for use in humans and no medications to cure the West Nile disease once a person is infected by a mosquito.

People should take steps to minimize their exposure to mosquitoes during outside activities, especially in the morning and evening hours.

Gibbie Harris, the county’s health director, urges residents to:

  • Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent and apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Visit the EPA’s website for more information.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside, and if possible, use air conditioning.
  • Reduce mosquito breeding by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least once a week.
  • If you are a horse owner, consult your veterinarian regarding proper protective vaccines for your horses and change the water in water troughs at least twice a week to discourage mosquito breeding.

For more information regarding mosquitoes or to file a mosquito complaint for your area, please contact Environmental Health at 980-343-1620 or visit Environmental Health to submit a mosquito control service request online.

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