The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed a human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a 48-year-old Bryan County man.
Although this is the first confirmed case of human WNV in the Coastal Health District, the virus has been circulating among the mosquito population in southeast Georgia, in other parts of the state, and around the country. As of Sept. 28, there have been 44 confirmed cases of WNV in Georgia including four deaths (two in Dougherty County; one in Early County; and one in Gwinnett County), according to a press release from the Coastal Health District.
“We’ve known that the virus is out there which is why we have continually urged residents in all of our counties to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said Diane Weems, M.D., interim health director for the Coastal Health District.
Sally Silbermann, public information officer with the Coastal Health District, said no other details are available about the case.
Mosquitoes can carry WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Both WNV and EEE are transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes and can cause mild to serious illness. Mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus are more likely to bite during the evening, night and early morning
There are several easy things residents can do to reduce mosquito breeding including removing water-holding containers, changing water frequently in pet dishes, changing bird bath water at least twice a week, and avoiding using saucers under outdoor potted plants. In addition, consider organizing or participating in clean-up activities to pick up garbage from parks and other public spaces. By helping to limit potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes, every resident can contribute to reducing the nuisance caused by mosquitoes and stop the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases.
The Coastal Health District encourages residents to follow the five “Ds” of prevention:
Dusk – Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus usually bite at dusk and dawn.
Dawn – Avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn if possible. If you must be outside, be sure to protect yourself from bites.
Dress – Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water because they can be excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.