Mount Pleasant woman says she has West Nile

By Stacy

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- A simple Facebook post alerted a Lowcountry neighborhood to a nearby case of West Nile Virus. The woman said on a Facebook page that she tested positive for West Nile and it did not take long for word to spread.

Diane McCormick was playing with her dog last week when she felt the familiar pinch of a mosquito. Four days later, McCormick donated blood. But her donation didn't go far.

"The next day someone from Red Cross called me and told me I had a positive blood test for West Nile Virus," McCormick said.

Red Cross officials said 56 donors around the country have tested positive for West Nile Virus this year. McCormick believed she got the virus from the bite she got in her Park West neighborhood. But if she hadn't gone to donate blood, she might have never known.

"Most people don't get sick from it. Only 20 percent of people actually get sick and of those, most recover without a problem," she said.

"In bird populations, it's common because the birds carry it. In the human population, we don't know because folks don't even show symptoms," Charleston County taxonomist Ed Harne said.

People can protect themselves by using bug spray, especially in the morning and at dusk, Harne said. Once some gets bitten by an infected mosquito, they have the virus.

"Please protect yourself. Wear repellents, wear long sleeves, light color clothing in the summer and be aware," Harne said.

Harne surveyed McCormick's home Thursday. He found standing water and some drains that could've been the breeding ground for the mosquitoes, he said. He said mosquitoes and birds that carry West Nile are common in the Lowcountry. Harne advised people to get rid of standing water and call officials if they felt at risk.

McCormick planned to use bug spray more often. Officials told her she would be clear if she went 14 days without having West Nile symptoms. She was not experiencing any symptoms Thursday.

Charleston County residents can call the county for help with mosquitoes. They can reach officials at 843-202-7880.