FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C.— A Charleston County woman has been identified as the first person to test positive for West Nile Virus in South Carolina this year, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.
“This woman was identified as positive for the virus after donating blood,” said Linda Bell, M.D., Interim State Epidemiologist. “All donated blood is routinely screened for WNV to ensure the safety of our blood supply. Fortunately, she is recovering from her illness.”
Dr. Bell said that WNV is a disease of birds transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on infected birds. 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.
“The most important step anyone can take to prevent West Nile virus infection is to protect against being bitten by a mosquito,” said Dr. Bell. “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.”
So far this year in South Carolina, in addition to the person from Charleston County, WNV has been detected in one dead crow, one horse, and one mosquito pool.
DHEC recommends citizens pay attention to the “four Ds” as the most effective ways to prevent WNV:
For more information about WNV, visit DHEC's West Nile Virus webpage and http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.
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