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West Nile virus found in NC mosquito, officials say. Here's how to protect yourself

WILMINGTON — A mosquito in North Carolina tested positive for West Nile virus, and health officials say it’s important to protect yourself from bites.

Multiple mosquitoes in a trap in Wilmington were tested, and one sample came back positive for the virus, New Hanover County said on Monday.

The health department is increasing “surveillance and control activities” and will spray the area on Tuesday, the county said.

The public shouldn’t be alarmed but should do things to prevent bites, the county said.

“While human incidence of West Nile virus is rare, it is a dangerous disease with no cure or vaccine for people, so residents should protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites,” Public Health Director Phillip Tarte said, according to WWAY. “Use EPA approved insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants and limit outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are known to be most active.”

West Nile virus is the “leading cause of mosquito-borne disease” in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but only one in five infected will actually have a fever and other symptoms, and only one in 150 people infected will become seriously ill.

The virus is spread through mosquito bites, and symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash, the CDC says.

Although there is no treatment available, over-the-counter pain medications can be used to relieve symptoms, the CDC says.

As of Aug. 6, 36 states have reported cases of West Nile virus in people, birds or mosquitoes this year, according to the CDC.

In addition to wearing long sleeves and long pants and using bug repellent, the CDC also recommends controlling mosquitoes inside and outside your home by putting screens on windows and doors and preventing mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water.

School day will still start early for Guilford County Schools students

GREENSBORO — Students in Guilford County Schools will continue to start their day five minutes earlier.

Midway through last academic year, the district added five minutes to the beginning of the day as a way to make up time lost to bad weather, including back-to-back hurricanes.

Tony Watlington, the district’s chief of schools, confirmed Tuesday the longer school day this school year in an interview with the News & Record after a parent who was unhappy about the situation brought it up in the public comment period at the Guilford County Board of Education meeting.

Watlington said school administrators thought they would just add the “makeup minutes” for only that spring semester but later changed their minds.

“This will give us a kind of safety net, if you will,” he said.

The board has been reluctant to use spring break as makeup days and often has added them to the end of the year.

However, adding days at the end of the school year can lead to problems with the graduation schedule, Watlington said. He also said some people feel extra days tacked on after tests have finished aren’t very useful for instruction.

Rebekah Sokol, the High Point parent who spoke during the meeting, criticized a move she said would increase the hectic nature of mornings for families. She also said the district should have put the change to a vote by the board, or at the very least made a public announcement before now, rather than letting families find out through their schools.

Watlington and Chief Operations Officer Scott McCully said the choice was made over the summer. They are not required to have the board vote on it, Watlington said, adding that board members were told about the decision.

“We know we should have announced this sooner, and we will be upfront about apologizing about that,” Watlington said.

Kiser Middle

A group of Kiser Middle School alumni and their allies spoke during Tuesday's public comment period to urge the school district not to close the school.

Kiser was one of 10 schools that MGT Consulting Group recommended closing within the next decade or so as part of a study of the district's facilities. The group also recommended replacing 27 other schools. The consultants made those recommendations based on factors such as the condition of school buildings and expected enrollment in various areas of the county.

Superintendent Sharon Contreras was not entirely satisfied with MGT's recommendations, for a variety of reasons. She has asked district staff to come up with a plan for Guilford County Schools going forward.

District administrators are working with Cooperative Strategies, a new consultant, to build a master plan for the district, working from the data MGT provided in its report.

McCully said he expects the district will present a recommended master plan sometime this fall.

Those who commented about Kiser's fate Tuesday included alumni, parents, a student, and a former long-time principal, Robert W. Barrett. They wanted school administrators and board members to consider their positive viewpoint of Kiser in making any decision about what, if any, schools the district might need to close.

They brought up Kiser's high growth scores on state tests in recent years and its location adjacent to Grimsley High School. They pointed to what they said was the diversity of Kiser’s student body, and a tradition of inclusion and high expectations at the school.

Alumna Lynn Gordon put some of her comments into song, to the tune of "Edelweiss" from "The Sound of Music."

“Remodel Yes, Close No," she sang. "Keep Kiser Middle School Alive.”