November 22, 2006
COLUMBIA - An Orangeburg County woman has the first state-confirmed human case of West Nile virus disease for 2006, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.
"DHEC's Bureau of Labs confirmed the laboratory diagnosis of West Nile neuroinvasive disease late Tuesday along with her clinical symptoms that include partial paralysis," said Lena Bretous, M.D., epidemiologist for vector-borne diseases with DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control. "West Nile virus is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a person."
Dr. Bretous said the disease can result in symptoms including a rapid onset of fever and headache or flu like symptoms and in more severe cases, especially for those over the age of 50, symptoms such as numbness or paralysis. There is no specific cure for this potentially dangerous disease. Treatment includes supportive efforts and medications to relieve the symptoms.
According to Dr. Bretous, the woman is still recovering and under medical care in the hospital.
"Although the cooler weather has decreased mosquito activity, mosquitoes can become active again when the weather warms up," said Chris Evans, Ph.D., an entomologist who performs surveillance and testing for mosquito-borne diseases through DHEC's Bureau of Laboratories.
"South Carolina has warm weather that persists into the fall season, which allows mosquitoes to breed for longer periods despite brief bouts of cold weather," Evans said. "Residents should continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites even if South Carolina experiences cold weather."
South Carolina's current surveillance results on mosquito-borne diseases and links to WNV information are available on DHEC's Web site at http://www.scdhec.gov/westnile/.