Aiken County, SC (WLTX) - An Aiken County man has become the first person in South Carolina to die of the West Nile Virus this year.
As is their standard policy, officials with the Department of Health and Environmental Control did not identify the man, only revealing that he was elderly.
"This gentleman tested positive for West Nile Virus infection after being hospitalized with sudden onset of high fever, confusion, and headache," Dr. Riyadh Muhammad with DHEC said in a statement. "In all likelihood - like most South Carolinians sickened by this disease in 2012 - he probably contracted the illness after being bitten by mosquitoes in the area near his home."
The disease originates in birds, but mosquitoes bite those animals and spread it to humans.
Muhammad said people bitten by an infected mosquito may become ill within 2 to 14 days with flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and occasionally nausea and vomiting. Some may have a rash.
This year the West Nile Virus has been detected in 17 people in South Carolina.