Valdosta, GA- The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed three mosquito samples tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in Lowndes County. Public Health Officials in South Georgia encourage everyone to guard against exposure to mosquitoes. There have also been numerous cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) confirmed in horses and one in a dog in South Georgia; and one human case of WNV in Brantley County.
“Mosquito borne illnesses are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito,” states William Grow, MD, FACP, District Health Director. “The more time someone is outdoors, the more time the person is at risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito; that is why we are encouraging everyone to take all precautions against mosquito bites.”
Lowndes County is one of only five locations in Georgia that conducts testing on mosquito pools for mosquito borne illnesses. “Due to the testing in our area, we are able to notify the public when a mosquito sample tests positive for an illness,” says Grow. “However, this doesn’t mean that mosquitoes are only affecting people in that area. Mosquitoes travel everywhere and anyone is at risk of a mosquito bite.”
People are urged to take the following precautions:
• Use insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or PMD. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
• Any containers that can collect water should be discarded or dumped daily.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk to reduce the amount of exposed skin, as weather permits.
• Avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn, peak mosquito biting times, if possible.
• Set up outdoor fans to keep mosquitoes from flying near you.
“While most people infected with West Nile Virus show no symptoms of the illness and pass it on their own, even healthy people have become severely ill for weeks when infected,” says Dr. Grow.
Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that usually develop 3 to 14 days after being infected. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease.
There is no vaccine for the illness nor is there a specific treatment. People with severe cases are hospitalized and receive supportive care such as intravenous fluids and respiratory treatment. The best protection is to avoid being bitten.
For more information about mosquito borne illnesses, call your local health department or visit www.cdc.gov/.