DHEC confirms first case of West Nile in Beaufort County

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The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is reporting that it has confirmed the first human case of the West Nile virus on Hilton Head Island in Beaufort County.

In response, Beaufort County Mosquito Control and DHEC have intensified their surveillance for this mosquito-borne disease. Mosquito Control has also increased the frequency of area treatments to control the adult mosquitoes. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of West Nile virus disease include the following:

• No symptoms in most people. Most people (70-80 percent) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.

• Febrile illness in some people. About one in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

• Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1 percent of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.

Following are prevention tips:

• Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. 

• Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.

• Exposure to mosquitoes is most common at night and 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, gutters, buckets, pool covers, bird baths, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.

Dead birds can help DHEC and its local partners to track the West Nile virus, and residents can report the finding of dead birds to DHEC. Visit www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Insects/Mosquitoes for more information.

Call Beaufort County Mosquito Control at 843-255-5800.

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