RALEIGH — Health officials from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services encourage residents and visitors to take precautions to prevent mosquito-borne illness following the death of a Wilson County adult from West Nile virus infection. This is North Carolina’s first death and first reported confirmed case in 2013.
West Nile virus is one of several mosquito-borne viruses common to North Carolina. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 696 cases of West Nile virus disease nationwide through September 10 of this year, including 28 deaths. This is less than the 2,636 cases reported through the same timeframe last year, but still represents a significant level of morbidity.
“This is a tragic reminder that these infections can be fatal. Fortunately preventive measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of infection,” said Dr. Robin Cummings, acting State Health Director. “Most cases of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illness occur from mid-August through mid-October in our state, so we encourage everyone to take precautions to protect against mosquitoes.”
The mosquito that transmits West Nile virus can develop from an egg to an adult in as little as a week. DHHS recommends the following precautions to eliminate potential breeding sites around your home and business:
• Eliminate standing water in places like flower pots, discarded containers, gutters and kiddie pools.
• Clean ornamental ponds and ensure that filtration systems are functioning properly.
• Clean and change water in horse troughs at least once a week.
It also is important to keep window screens and panes in good condition to prevent entry of insects into your home, and to wear long sleeves, pants and socks while outdoors when weather permits.
Health officials say mosquitoes are most active from dawn to dusk, so if you plan to be outdoors, always use repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin. Remember always to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
For more information on the safe use of insect repellents visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/deet.html .