West Nile virus in South Carolina — should you be worried?

Author: Mosquito Squad of Greater Charleston

You probably have heard of West Nile virus. It’s the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. But how common is it really, and do people in South Carolina need to worry about it?

West Nile virus — a synopsis

West Nile virus (WNV) is a virus most commonly spread to people from mosquito bites. You cannot get it from contact with an infected person. Mosquitoes become infected with this disease when they feed off birds. Infected mosquitoes then spread it to people and other animals by biting them. The good news is that most people don’t develop any symptoms whatsoever if they are bitten by an infected mosquito, however about 1 and 5 people;le who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as a headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. There is no known vaccine or cure for West Nile virus, and it is treated by treating the symptoms.

There are some serious cases, however, that result in encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). Other symptoms of the severe cases may include disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These severe cases happen at a rate of about 1 in every 150 people, and can sometimes be fatal.

Sure it’s the “most common mosquito-borne illness,” but how common is it in South Carolina?

According to the map below, when the CDC released its report in May of 2018 stating that vector-borne diseases have more than tripled since 2004, South Carolina was actually in the bottom 20% of states when it came to mosquito-borne diseases on the whole. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a concern here, though. By September 20, 2017, there were 11 cases of WNV confirmed in the Palmetto State, including one death, according to TheState.com. By the end of 2017, the CDC reported that there were 17 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in South Carolina, and two deaths. These numbers are understood to be highly understated, because people who are infected that don’t show any symptoms don’t go to the doctor. Why would they if they didn’t even know they were sick?

Thus far in 2018 (as of June 26), the CDC can confirm human West Nile cases in four states — Alabama, California, North Dakota, and South Dakota, but this number is undoubtably expected to rise and to spread throughout the country.

So what can we do about West Nile virus in South Carolina?

For starters, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is asking the public to submit to them any dead birds that you may find in order to help them keep track of whether West Nile is in the area. (Instructions on how to do that can be found in this article from Myrtle Beach Online. Yes, this is kind of a gross thing to do, but it helps for the greater good.

Of course, it’s important to mention that West Nile isn’t the only mosquito-borne disease you could be exposed to — there are plenty others. For a more detailed look at how many mosquito-borne diseases are detected here, the DHEC has an interactive map of mosquito-borne diseases that goes by county and disease. The only limitations of this are that 1) it is updated yearly, meaning the most recent information it provides is 2017, not as of today, and 2) this is only reports in animals, not people. Still, it’s a great tool to see how common these diseases actually are in your area. Regardless of whether people were infected, these numbers are a good indication of how likely that is.

On the home front, regardless of whether or not you’re collecting dead birds, your best bet for being protected from WNV-carrying mosquitoes is to not be exposed to them at all. Mosquito Squad’s barrier treatment is the most effective mosquito control you can find. We guarantee nearly 90% reduction in your yard’s mosquito population for three weeks at a time, or your money back. It’s best not to take your chances when it comes to vector-borne diseases. Call Mosquito Squad of Greater Charleston today at (843) 258-5415 for a free consultation. We look forward to protecting you, and helping you take back your yard!