Health Officials Confirm Human Case Of West Nile Virus In Our Area

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Thomasville, Georgia- September 5, 2012

The Southwest Health District has confirmed a human case of West Nile Virus in Miller County, Georgia.

They have not released the identity of the victim, but say a horse has also been confirmed with the mosquito-borne illness.

With September being prime time for the virus, experts say it's important for others to be aware.

"If you're in a place where the mosquitoes are real bad, try to avoid going out in the morning, or really at dusk when it's more serious," said Andrew Sawyer, the Thomas County Extension Agent with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.

They also suggest using a CDC recommended or EPA regulated bug spray.

In Thomas County, one horse has been confirmed with another mosquito-borne illness, called Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE.

Veterinarians say it's crucial to vaccinate your horse at least twice a year.

Veterinarian Todd Cooley and owner of Thomasville Animal Hospital said, "Both these diseases are very severe in horses, especially the Eastern Encephalitis. It's nearly 100% fatal, where as West Nile Virus is only 30% fatal to horses."

Marla Bowman cares for more than 15 horses a day. She says she's never had a problem with either virus and credits that to taking the proper precautions.

"When we're out here, we do spray for mosquitoes and during lessons or when we're using the horses, we have bug spray we try to keep on them," she said.

There are still no human vaccines for either mosquito-borne illness. Experts say the elderly, young children and pregnant woman are at a higher risk for contracting the illnesses.