West Nile Virus Has Health Departments On Alert

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By Kara Duffy
July 15, 2013

Thomas County, GA - It's been one week since the first human case of West Nile Virus has been confirmed in Georgia. Health officials say the recent wet weather and hot temperatures could be a sign that there are more cases to come.

Health officials at the Thomas County Health Department say we have to be extra careful when we head outside now. They say the West Nile Virus has arrived early this year and it's our job to be prepared.

The recent heavy rain fall over the past few weeks could have brought along some early, unwanted visitors, mosquitoes. Mosquitoes health officials say could be infected with the West Nile Virus.

Jay Ridenhower, Thomas County Environmental Health Manager: "The West Nile Virus breeds in artificial containers, such as old tires, coffee pots, coffee cans, paint cans, bird baths, dog dishes; things like that where people typically have them laying in the yard somewhere."

Health officials say 4 out of 10 people who are bitten by a mosquito infected by the virus won't show any symptoms, but for the other six it could be debilitating or even deadly.

Carolyn Simmons, RN Director of Thomas County Health Department: "Usually it takes about 2 to 15 days to develop symptoms. The symptoms are headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, neck discomfort, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash."

Health experts say the elderly, as well as people with compromised immune systems or underlying health issues have the greatest risk of being infected. However, they urge everyone to take proper precautions.

"Repellants, curtailing your activities so that you're doing them during the hottest parts of the day or during the day when the mosquitoes aren't usually out; they're usually out early morning or late evening."

Officials at the Thomas County Health Department say they're also offering residents free packets of insect growth regulator tablets. They say the tablets can be placed in areas with standing water and will prevent the mosquito larvae from developing into adults.

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