Mosquitoes captured around Wilmington have tested positive for West Nile virus, the New Hanover County Health Department said in a Friday afternoon press release.
“While we know that West Nile virus has been detected locally, it’s not a reason to panic as routine, preventative measures can significantly reduce the risk to you and your loved ones,” Jon Campbell, the county’s public health director, said in a statement.
The county health department urged people around Wilmington to take steps to avoid mosquito bites and limit the standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Those steps include tipping out anything containing standing water like birdbaths, old tires or buckets.
“It only takes a very small amount of water to create a habitat where mosquitoes can breed,” Campbell said.
Other steps recommended by the health department include avoiding being outside at dawn and dusk; wearing light-colored long-sleeved shorts and pants; and using an EPA-registered mosquito repellent that contains DEET or a similar ingredient.
A map showing the location of the mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus was not immediately available, according to a county spokesman.
Mosquitoes contract West Nile by feeding on birds and then transmit it to humans. While many who contract the virus show no symptoms, about 20% suffer symptoms like a headache, fever or rash that can last from a few days to several weeks.
About one in 150 of those infected will suffer more severe symptoms like a high fever, disorientation, paralysis, tremors or coma. Those symptoms can last for several weeks, according to the health department, potentially causing permanent neurological effects.
This story was produced with financial support from the Hartfield Foundation and the 1Earth Fund, in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work.