Mosquitoes are on the hunt, how to protect your family from bites this summer

If a mosquito is infected with West Nile virus, doctors say it won’t be long before the virus is transferred to a human host.
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It has been more than a week since the West Nile virus was found in the mosquito population in Mecklenburg County. The best way to protect yourself against the virus is to prevent yourself from getting bit, according to local health experts.

“All it takes is just a single bite,” Piedmont Medical Center’s Dr. Arash Poursina said.

If a mosquito is infected with West Nile virus, Dr. Poursina says it won’t be long before the virus is transferred to a human host. The good news, he says, is that most people won’t know they have it because they won’t develop any symptoms. But in some cases, you could have mild flu-like symptoms. Dr. Poursina says people ages 70 and older or people with underlying health conditions are at most risk of developing a severe case of West Nile virus.

“We don’t have any effective, approved treatment for West Nile virus once it happens. All we can do is supportive care once in the hospital,” Dr. Poursina said. “It’s very heartbreaking. Especially when you see somebody for example who is paralyzed, blind, or has seizures and sometimes these things last forever.”

Dr. Poursina says the best way to protect yourself is to prevent yourself from getting bit. You can reduce your chances by wearing protective clothing and bug repellant. You can also use repellent in your yard.

Sloan Black is the owner of Mosquito Joe in Tega Cay, SC. Black says this is the busiest time of year for him and his team. On Thursday, they sprayed more than one hundred properties to keep mosquitos at bay.

“We recommend people start earlier in the season because if you start now, it’s going to take a couple of treatment to get it under control,” Black said.

Mosquito Joe starts by eliminating areas of standing water where mosquitos can lay eggs. Then, they use a mixture of synthetic and botanical sprays to attack adult mosquitos hiding out in bushes. Black says botanical sprays are a mixture of essential oils.

“Mosquitos have great sensors for detecting CO2. They recognize that that’s a mammal that I can go get a meal from,” Black explained. “But those essential oils have such a strong odor that it jams up their sensors and also masks your CO2, they don’t even know that you’re there.”

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