Raleigh, NC-- The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) released an update on cases of the West Nile virus.
The report states that as of today, five cases of West Nile virus, including two deaths have been confirmed in North Carolina.
The confirmed cases are confirmed in: Cabarrus, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, Scotland and Wayne counties.
State Health Director Laura Gerald released this warning to everyone about west nile: "While the Division of Public Health has only confirmed cases of West Nile in these five counties, we want to encourage everyone to protect themselves, especially at this time of year, when mosquitoes are most active," Dr. Gerald said. "West Nile, and other mosquito-borne illness, can occur in any county in North Carolina."
Dr. Ward Robinson, Medical Director for the Guilford County Health Department, told News 2 there's no explanation as to why West Nile Virus is more prevalent this year, but it probably has something to do with the climate or the migration of birds, which is how mosquitoes contracted the virus in the first place.
"It's being transmitted from bird to bird by the mosquito and if the mosquitoes happen to say, 'here's a passing human, let me have some lunch', then they can transmit the virus to that human," said Robinson.
Robinson said it could be days or even weeks before someone who is infected with West Nile Virus actually experiences any symptoms.
Symptoms can include a headache, fever, muscle pains, even a rash.
Robinson said symptoms are so similar to the flu that you wouldn't even know it was West Nile Virus unless you had blood tests to prove it.
"There's no way to tell a West Nile infected mosquito from a non-West Nile infected mosquito. So the answer is you have to protect yourself against all mosquito bites," said Robinson.
Robinson said here's what you should do to protect yourself:
-Avoid going outside during dusk or dawn when mosquitoes feed.
-If you do, wear long sleeves and long pants.
-Make sure you're using DEET or other bug repellant.
-Get rid of any standing water around your home, like bird baths or old tires where water might pool, because that's where mosquitoes breed.
Robinson said there's no reason to lose sleep over a mosquito bite.
According to the State Health Department, only one in five people infected by West Nile Virus develop symptoms at all and less than one percent will develop inflammation of the brain, similar to a stroke.
Robinson said the elderly are most at risk.
"So if you get exposed to it, you're likely to not even get symptoms, or get symptoms and get over it by yourself. Your immune system will do what it's supposed to do," said Robinson.
There is no human vaccine for West Nile Virus, just an animal vaccine, which is given to horses.
For more information about preventing mosquito-borne illness click here.
Related: West Nile Cases Up 40% In Past Week
NCDHHS/WFMY News 2