The Georgia Department of Public Health continues to urge precautions against mosquitoes, citing that WNV (West Nile Virus) has been identified in mosquitoes in Chatham and Glynn counties, and EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) has been identified in mosquitoes in Liberty County.
According to a DPH press release, there are seven confirmed human cases of WNV, including one death, and one confirmed case of EEE, which also resulted in death. EEE is a rare illness in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United States each year.
WNV causes mild to serious illnesses. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that nearly 80 percent of those infected do not show symptoms, but around 1 in 5 people do develop a fever, headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a serious illness such as encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, which is inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, according to the CDC.
EEE is a mosquito-borne virus that causes swelling of the brain, according to the DPH. In horses, the disease is fatal 70 to 90 percent of the time. The CDC said that most people infected with EEE do not show illness, although symptoms in severe cases include: sudden headaches, high fever, chills and vomiting.
Mosquito season in Georgia typically lasts through October, sometimes longer depending on the weather, the release said.
Assistant Liberty County Administrator Bob Sprinkel said Liberty County Mosquito Control has an aggressive program of trapping and identifying mosquitoes for diseases.
“We are very confident in our treatment plan, and our other prevention methods that we employ to do absolutely everything possible to take care of the citizens of Liberty County,” Sprinkel said.
Liberty County residents can help protect themselves by employing the “Tip and Toss” method, which eliminates the mosquito breeding grounds by ridding areas of standing water, Liberty County Mosquito Control Director Frazier Sylvers said. The method is widely encouraged by both MC and the DPH.
“Georgians can reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes and yards by getting rid of standing water,” DPH director of Environmental Health Chris Rustin said. “Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may be infected with WNV or other mosquito-borne diseases.”
After every rainfall, tip water out of flowerpots, planters, pools, buckets and anything else that may hold water, the release said. If it holds water and it’s not needed, toss it out. For containers too large for the “Tip and Toss” method, the DPH suggests using larvicides that do not hurt birds or animals.
Currently, Liberty County’s MC sprays once a day for five days, weather permitting. The spray is Aqua-Reslin, which is a permethrin based product, that doesn’t harm plants or important insects, like bees, Sylvers said.
“We use IGR larvicide blocks in county maintain ditches and areas that we find breeding,” he added.
There are certain precautions residents can take to prevent mosquito bites, Sylvers said. Stay inside at the hours of dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. Buy insect repellent that contains DEET, especially when planning on being outside for extended periods, he continued.
More information about mosquito-borne illnesses and mosquito repellents can be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth. Information about West Nile Virus and EEE can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile/ or www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/.