Reports of West Nile Virus are cropping up in Georgia and across the nation as summer temperatures rise and mosquito season begins in earnest. So far, three cases have been reported.
Southwest Georgia Public Health officials confirmed Monday that an Albany, Georgia person was confirmed to have the disease.
A 72-year-old DeKalb man was hospitalized and confirmed to be suffering from West Nile, the DeKalb County Board of Health announced Wednesday, July 12.
In March, a Dougherty County man died while ill with West Nile, though the coroner told the Albany Herald that the virus was not considered the cause of death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported six cases in Georgia for 2016.
West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquito bite. The mosquitoes feed on infected birds and then infect humans and other animals.
It is usually not considered an especially dangerous disease. According to the CDC, 70-80 percent of infected people do not develop any symptoms at all. About 20 percent develop flu-like symptoms that can result in long-lasting fatigue and weakness.
In fewer than one percent of infected people, severe neurological illnesses, such as meningitis or brain swelling, can occur, leading to lasting damage. About 10% of the people who display these symptoms will die from them.
There is no vaccine or cure, and those 60-years-old and older are more likely to develop serious symptoms.
The Georgia Department of Public Health issued the following guidelines for preventing the mosquito bites most likely to transmit the virus.
- Dusk/Dawn – Mosquitoes carrying WNV usually bite at dusk and dawn, so avoid or limit outdoor activity at these times.
- 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 DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
- Drain - Empty any containers holding standing water because they are excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
- Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE