The State Laboratory of Public Health identified West Nile virus (WNV) in a mosquito collected in Central Mecklenburg County on July 14, 2021. Thus far, in 2021, zero residents of Mecklenburg County have been identified with neuroinvasive WNV.
Mosquitoes are responsible for circulating WNV within the wild bird population and can transmit the virus to humans through a single bite.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of people who become infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms to a mild, flu-like illness. However, about 20 percent of people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. In about 1 percent of infections, West Nile virus can cause a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).
There are no West Nile vaccines licensed for use in humans and no medications to cure West Nile disease once a person is infected by a mosquito. Individuals should take steps to minimize their exposure to mosquitoes during outside activities, especially during morning and evening hours. Gibbie Harris, the county's Health Director, urges residents to:
· Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent and apply according to the manufacturer's instructions; see https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you
· Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside, and if possible, use air conditioning.
· 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 are a horse owner, consult your veterinarian regarding proper protective vaccines for your horses and change the water in water troughs at least twice a week to discourage mosquito breeding.
For more information regarding mosquitoes or to file a mosquito complaint for your area, please contact Environmental Health at 980-343-1620 or visit Environmental Health MeckNC.gov to submit a mosquito control service request online.
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Mecklenburg County Public Health encourages all eligible residents ages 12 and older to get a free COVID-19 vaccination.