COLUMBIA (WACH) - Three men in the Midlands have been diagnosed with West Nile Virus, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
â??The new cases are a middle-aged man from Orangeburg County, a middle-aged man from Lexington County, and a middle-aged man from Richland County,â?? said Linda Bell, M.D., Interim State Epidemiologist. â??Combined with the case identified in a Charleston County woman last week, we now have identified a total of four human cases.â??
According to Bell, West Nile Virus is a disease of birds transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitioes become infected after feeding on infected birds.
â??The most important step anyone can take to prevent West Nile virus infection is to protect against being bitten by a mosquito,â?? said Dr. Bell. â??The risk of serious illness is low. Less than one percent of people infected develop a potentially fatal swelling of the brain, known as encephalitis.â??
DHEC reports that in addition to the human cases, WNV has been detected in one dead crow, one horse, and one mosquito pool in S.C. so far this season.
Authorities say people bitten by an infected mosquito may become ill within 2 to 14 days with flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and occasionally nausea and vomiting. Often they experience sensitivity to light and inflammation of the eyelids. Some may have a rash.
DHEC recommends citizens pay attention to the â??four Dsâ?? as the most effective ways to prevent WNV:
DEET â?? Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
DRESS â?? Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
DAWN AND DUSK â?? Exposure to mosquitoes is most common during the early morning and evening so it is important to wear repellent at that time. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
DRAIN â?? Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish (available from your local mosquito and vector control agency) or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae.