West Nile virus report spurs mosquito spraying

Mosquito bites can spread West Nile and other viruses harmful to people, but the illnesses rarely are contracted.

MOUNT PLEASANT - Charleston County sprayed the Park West neighborhood on Thursday after state health officials raised a concern about West Nile virus.

"We were contacted by The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control today regarding the potential presence of West Nile Virus," said Shawn Smetana, county spokesman. "Per protocol, we sent Mosquito Control out to test and spray in the area."

Privacy laws keep DHEC from commenting on individual cases, said Jim Beasley, DHEC spokesman. "We have had no confirmed cases of (the virus) in the state this year," he said.

West Nile is a virus that can be carried by mosquitoes. It's considered the most prevalent mosquito-borne illness in South Carolina, but the odds are slim that a person will get it. Several million mosquitoes per acre can hatch after a rainfall in a single muddy acre, yet there have been about 30 cases since 2010, including at least four in Charleston, Berkeley or Dorchester counties.

Most people who are exposed to the virus have no noticeable symptoms. It can cause fever, headache, body ache, joint pain, vomiting diarrhea, rash. Less than 1 percent of people infected with the virus develop an encephalitis, a serious neurological illness that can lead to tremors, seizures, paralysis and death.

There is no real treatment, simply what health professionals call supportive care.