FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed a case of neuroinvasive West Nile virus disease (WNV). This is the first reported case in Cumberland County in 2022.
The public should not be alarmed but should be vigilant in protecting themselves from mosquito bites and preventing their proliferation around homes.
“We all need to take personal precautions to protect ourselves and loved ones from mosquito bites and thus reduce our risk of infection,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Health Director.”. “Use of an EPA-approved repellent is an effective method to keep infected mosquitoes from biting.”
The young, elderly and immunocompromised populations are at greatest risk. 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 WNV disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, which is 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. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that for every neurological case reported, approximately 140 people were infected but not reported.
Below are tips to help eliminate mosquito breeding and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease:
• Treat standing water in containers and low areas around the home with EPA-approved larvicides. Many options are available that last for weeks to months.
• Use the tip and toss method after every rainfall. Tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, wading pools, buckets and any containers that can hold water, even a small amount, including saucers under flowerpots.
• Store out-of-service or un-mounted tires under cover to prevent the collection of any water.
• Replace corrugated downspout extensions with smooth extensions to prevent larvae from growing in water-holding extension grooves.
• Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week.
• Keep gutters clean and in good repair, and repair leaky outdoor faucets.
• When possible, drain any standing water on your property such as puddles and ditches that hold water for more than four days after rain.
• Make sure rain barrels have tight-fitting screens or lids.
• Use screened windows and doors, and make sure screens fit tightly and are not torn.
• Use insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors, which also repels ticks. Remember to always follow product directions.
• Wear long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, or stay indoors during these hours.
For more information about West Nile virus and mosquitoes, visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website at https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/diseases/wnv.html or the CDC website at cdc.gov/westnile/index.html. If anyone suspects they have West Nile virus, they should contact their primary care provider.
If you would like more information about the Cumberland County Department of Public Health’s programs and services, health-related data, or community resources, please call (910) 433-3600, visit with someone at the information desk, or visit our website at cumberlandcountync.gov/publichealth.