North Carolina sees increase in West Nile virus cases

RALEIGH — The NC Department of Health and Human Services is reporting an increase in cases of West Nile virus across the state.  The four reported human cases is double the average number seen at this point in the year.  The average by the end of August each year is two.

While the majority of people who become infected usually experience no symptoms or a mild, flu-like illness, about 20 percent of infected people will develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.  In about one percent of infections, WNV causes serious conditions, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord) and meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissues). WNV can lead to death in some cases.

Fall is the time of year when most cases of mosquito borne illnesses are reported, and with already higher-than-average cases, NCDHHS recommends the following:

  • Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) when outside in areas where mosquitoes might be present. Use caution when applying to children. See for repellants that will work for you and your family.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Or keep windows and doors closed and use air conditioning if possible.
  • 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 think you or a family member might have WNV disease, talk with your health care provider.

WNV is one of several mosquito-borne viruses which may infect people in North Carolina. Others include eastern equine encephalitis virus and La Crosse virus. Insect repellants are effective against the mosquito species that carry these diseases.