DHEC: West Nile Virus outbreak in Richland County

Watch WIS News 10 at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 12:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2022 at 7:21 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The City of Columbia reported Friday afternoon that human transmission of West Nile Virus had been detected in the city. Earlier in the summer, the city said the virus had been detected but this is the first instance of human infection so far.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said the increase in cases is now an outbreak in progress. This comes after DHEC confirmed six human cases within the county in 2022.

“Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms,” said Linda Bell, M.D. and State Epidemiologist.

Bell continued, “However, the risk of serious illness such as encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain, though it occurs in less than one percent of people infected, is reason enough for residents in Richland County to take this alert seriously and take the precautions advised.”

Most people infected with the virus show no symptoms. However, 1 in 5 can develop a fever, headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. DHEC says most people with these symptoms recover completely but fatigue, weakness, or other complications can last for weeks or months.

Severe symptoms can develop in less than 1% of cases. Serious complications include inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues. Symptoms of this can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.

The city said it will continue to spray for mosquitoes through the rest of the season.


Columbia provided a list of recommendations for residents:

  • Using, according to the label instructions, EPA registered insect repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Emptying and turning over outdoor containers holding water
  • Making sure there are screens on rain barrels and using the water as soon as possible
  • Changing the water in pet dishes, birdbaths and plant containers at least once a week
  • Properly maintaining swimming pools
  • Cleaning clogged roof gutters
  • Eliminating overgrown grass, weeds, and shrubbery
  • Clearing drainage ditches of debris and weeds
  • Packing tree holes with sand
  • Keeping boats overturned, drained or covered (covers should not collect water)
  • Stocking ornamental ponds and water gardens with top-feeding minnows.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article’s headline.