Georgia has 21 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus; 3 deaths reported

By: Sheli Muniz Email
By: Sheli Muniz Email

Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Department of Public Health released the following statement:

"DPH is calling on all Georgians to guard against exposure to mosquitoes. It has identified 21 confirmed cases of the
West Nile virus in the state. Three cases have been fatal.

Confirmed cases are in the following counties:

  • Bartow: 1
  • Cobb: 3
  • Columbia: 1
  • Dougherty (including 2 deaths): 7
  • Fulton: 1
  • Forsyth: 1
  • Early (including 1 death): 1
  • Lee: 1
  • Mitchell: 1
  • Muscogee: 2
  • Richmond: 1
  • Worth: 1

Mosquitoes from 54 West Nile virus monitoring sites in metro Atlanta and another 20 in coastal and south Georgia have tested positive for the virus that can lead to brain or spinal cord swelling, or even death. DPH has deemed these areas at high risk for WNV transmission.

'The problem of mosquitoes and West Nile Virus appears to be escalating in Georgia and across the country,' said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., DPH’s director of health protection. 'More West Nile virus cases have been confirmed by the third week in August than at any time in the last 10 years.'

Dr. O’Neal urges residents to prevent water from standing in containers -- where mosquitoes thrive -- and to observe the 'Five D’s of WNV Prevention.'

Dusk: Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus usually bite at dusk and dawn.
Dawn: Avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn if possible. If you must be outside, be sure to protect yourself from bites.
Dress: Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
DEET: Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
Drain: Empty any containers holding standing water because they can be excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.

Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease.

Of those who become infected with WNV, most will fight off the virus without any symptoms or will develop less severe West Nile fever. But about one in 150 people bitten by infected mosquitoes will develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord).

Approximately 10 percent of people with a severe form of WNV infection die from their illness, and others suffer from long-term nervous system problems.

People with questions about WNV should speak to their health care providers or call their local county health department, environmental health office."

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