Southwest Health District reports first human case of West Nile Virus of the season
ALBANY – With the first human West Nile Virus case of the season confirmed in Dougherty County, Southwest Health District is warning area residents that they should have their guard up against mosquitoes that carry the disease.
An older adult with pre-existing conditions who spent time outdoors contracted the virus in Albany and is currently hospitalized. In Worth County, a horse has also tested positive for West Nile Virus.
“With recent rains, we have seen plenty of mosquito activity,” said Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Charles Ruis. “More mosquito activity increases the chances for mosquito bites. The best protection against West Nile virus – and other mosquito-borne illnesses including Zika – is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”
In addition to the Dougherty case, two cases have been reported in the state. Last year, the district had no cases reported, while six were reported statewide. Each year Georgia typically sees six to 10 cases per year, state officials say.
Eighty percent of the people infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms. “It has no effect on them,” Ruis said.
“About 20 percent of people infected experience headache, fever, fatigue, joint pain and general weakness, and recover completely within a few days,” he said. “But about one percent of those infected get seriously ill, with high fever, muscle weakness, paralysis and sometimes death.”
Those most at risk of severe illness include those with pre-existing medical conditions and older adults.
Ruis provided tips to prevent mosquito bites:
• Apply insect repellent. DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective repellents recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• When possible, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks, particularly at dawn and dusk and in mosquito-prone areas.
• Eliminate standing water in gutters, planters, toys, wheelbarrows and old tires. A mosquito needs only a few drops of water in order to breed and lay eggs.
• Trim tall grass, weeds, and vines to discourage mosquitoes.
• Ensure window and door screens fit tightly to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
For more information about West Nile Virus, visit www.cdc.gov or contact your county health department.