By Greg Gullberg
August 13, 2013
Valdosta, GA - Georgia public health officials say six new cases of the West Nile virus have popped up in the last week in the Valdosta area.
A total of 13 positive cases have been reported this year in Lowndes County. Nonetheless, there has been only one human case of West Nile this year in Georgia; that was in Brantley County.
"It's not cause for alarm but it is cause for us to really encourage people in the community to really take all the precautions they can against being bitten by mosquitoes," said Courtney Sheeley with the South Health District.
Health officials say mosquito activity appears to be lower now than last year at this point. Peak season for the West Nile virus is from about mid-August to mid-September.
Press Release: Georgia Department of Public Health
Valdosta - The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed six mosquito samples tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in Lowndes County last week. Fourteen mosquito pools have tested positive for a mosquito borne disease so far this year (13 - WNV, 1 - Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)). There have also been numerous cases of EEE confirmed in horses and one in a dog in South Georgia; and human cases in Clinch (EEE) and Brantley (WNV) Counties.
Public Health Officials continue to encourage everyone to guard against exposure to mosquitoes. According to Rosmarie Kelly, PhD, MPH, Public Health Entomologist, mosquito activity appears to be lower now than last year at this point; however, we won’t know for sure until all data are in for August.
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 William Grow, MD, FACP,
District Health Director. “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
● Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors,
especially at dawn and dusk to reduce the amount of exposed skin, as
● 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/.