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NHC health officials say a resident has contracted West Nile Virus, but risk to the public is low

Culex Mosquito
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A Culex pipiens mosquito isolated on white. This species of mosquito is important in the West Nile Virus transmission cycle.

Officials say the virus is uncommon in our region, but that cases do occasionally occur in this climate. Health department officials plan steps to address mosquitos and urge residents to take preventative measures.

A resident in New Hanover County has contracted West Nile Virus, according to a press release from county officials.

The resident likely contracted it locally from a mosquito bite. Still, public health officials consider the disease a low risk to the community.

According to the CDC, 80% of individuals who contract West Nile Virus don’t experience any symptoms.

Those who do have symptoms may experience fever, body aches, headache, nausea, and sometimes swollen lymph nodes or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, or back, with rare severe cases experiencing more severe symptoms.

While the county wanted to be proactive, the virus is unlikely to impact locals, according to Public Health Director David Howard.

"It’s just one case, it's very isolated. [There are] no other cases that I’m aware of even in the state or the region here, it’s relatively rare especially here in our climate," Howard said.

According to Howard, the virus cannot survive in some mosquito species, which limits its spread. The prevailing theory, he said, is that migratory birds bring in the virus on a seasonal basis — which also limits exposure.

Health department officials plan to do some trapping, and spray treatments if weather conditions allow.

County officials said residents can help prevent diseases like West Nile by keeping the mosquito population limited by tipping out standing water every few days in outdoor vessels. You can avoid bites by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and limiting outdoor activities at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

You can report mosquito activity or sign up for anti-mosquito-spraying alerts here. Additional information about West Nile Virus can be found by visiting the CDC here.