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West Nile virus found in mosquito in Mecklenburg County

Health officials said zero people in Mecklenburg County have been identified with West Nile virus this year.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina health officials have detected West Nile virus in a mosquito in Mecklenburg County. 

The county health department said Tuesday the mosquito was collected in central Mecklenburg County on July 14. So far this year, no one in Mecklenburg County has been identified with West Nile. 

Mosquitoes are responsible for circulating West Nile within the bird population and can transmit the virus to humans through a bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of people who become infected with West Nile experience no symptoms to a mild flu-like illness. 

"Oh my God, the mosquitos. The mosquitos are horrible," said Marque Stone who dances and exercises at Freedom Park every week. 

"When we stop moving, we're like, we know we're bound to get bitten up," he added. "It makes us want to be really cautious now and keep moving."

"It's a little alarming," said Malon Johnson. 

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The CDC says about 20% of people infected with West Nile will develop a fever with other symptoms, including a headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting and diarrhea. In about 1% of infections, West Nile can cause a severe illness affecting the nervous system including brain inflammation and meningitis. 

There are no vaccines licensed for use in humans against West Nile and no medications to cure the disease once a person is infected by a mosquito. 

RELATED: How the type of shirt you wear could repel mosquitoes

To help reduce your chances of being exposed to mosquitoes, you should do the following: 

  • Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent and apply it properly. 
  • Install screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside and use air conditioning if possible
  • Empty standing buckets of water and eliminate puddles in flowerpots, gutters, pool covers, pet dishes and other locations at least once a week

Contact Hunter Sáenz at hsaenz@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

RELATED: VERIFY: No, you shouldn't use Listerine as a mosquito repellent

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