DHEC announces West Nile Virus Outbreak in Richland County
The agency urges residents to take immediate steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sept. 9, 2022
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is reporting a significant increase in the detection of West Nile Virus in Richland County and is alerting residents because of the multiple confirmed birds, mosquitoes, and human cases clustered in time and geographic location. Six human cases have been reported in Richland County in 2022. DHEC considers this an outbreak in progress, and is urging Richland County and Midlands residents to use personal protective measures against mosquitos, including repellants.
Protective measures include:
• Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, old car tires, rain gutters, and pet bowls.
• Repellents help keep mosquitoes from biting. Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone according to label instructions.
• Wearing light-colored clothing that cover skin reduces the risk of bites.
• Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
"Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms," said Linda Bell, M.D. and State Epidemiologist. "However, the risk of serious illness such as encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain, though it occurs in less than one percent of people infected, is reason enough for residents in Richland County to take this alert seriously and take the precautions advised.”
Bell recommends contacting your health care provider if you develop fever or other symptoms after being bitten by a mosquito.
What are the symptoms of West Nile virus disease?
• No symptoms in most people. Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.
• Febrile illness in some people. About 1 in 5 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, weakness or other complications can last for weeks or months.
• Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1% 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.
*This information was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information on West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, along with strategies to protect yourself, please visit our website at SCDHEC.gov/mosquitoes.