The number of cases of West Nile virus is increasing in South Carolina. A Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) report released Thursday shows 31 cases of the mosquito-bourne illness reported in the state as of last week– 15 involving people and 15 cases in animals. The last case was a pool of infected mosquitos discovered in Beaufort County.
“We’re having more cases in South Carolina than in previous years,” said DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley, “This is the highest count we’ve had so far in humans.” He said it is difficult to pinpoint a cause, which could be due to warm weather, above-average rainfall, or several other different reasons that led to a growth in the mosquito population.The state usually averages less than seven cases in a year, DHEC says.
Experts say dumping anything with standing water where mosquitoes breed will curtail the spread of the virus. They also suggest wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, keeping screens on windows, and using insect repellents.
The Centers for Disease Control says only 20 percent of people bitten by infected mosquitos will exhibit symptoms of the virus, which may include flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting. Only a fraction of those cases (and none so far in South Carolina) will become severe enough to result in death.
Of the cases involving humans, four have been reported in Aiken County, three in Richland County, and one each in Anderson, Pickens, Spartanburg, Marlboro, Lexington, Orangeburg, Berkeley, and Charleston counties.