West Nile Virus Infections Increase in Georgia
ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed seven
human cases of West Nile virus so far this year, including one death. Additionally, there
has been one confirmed case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) which resulted in
death. EEE is a rare illness in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United
States each year.
Georgians are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites, particularly when they
are outside this Labor Day weekend. Mosquito season in Georgia typically lasts through
October, sometimes longer depending on the weather.
“Georgians can reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes and yards by
getting rid of standing water,” said Chris Rustin, Ph.D., DPH director of Environmental
Health. “Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may be infected with
West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”
Tip ‘n Toss all containers that can collect water – flowerpots, buckets, pool covers, pet
water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths – anything that holds water and gives
mosquitoes a place to thrive. Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus look for stagnant
water to breed in, so be sure gutters and eaves are clear of leaves and debris.
The most effective way to protect against WNV infection and all mosquito-borne
diseases is to prevent mosquito bites. Observe the “Five D’s of Prevention” during
your outdoor activities this holiday weekend:
Dusk/Dawn – Mosquitoes carrying WNV usually bite at dusk and dawn, so avoid
or limit outdoor activity at these times.
Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount
of exposed skin.
DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET, which is
the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water because they are excellent
breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix
torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.
Symptoms of WNV include a headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle, and joint aches,
swollen lymph nodes and a rash – that usually develop three to 15 days after being
bitten by an infected mosquito. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems,
or those with other underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for complications
from the disease.
Anyone with questions about WNV or EEE should speak to their health care provider or
call their local county health department, environmental health office.
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 this site or here.
About the Georgia Department of Public Health:
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing
disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and
responding to disasters from a health perspective. DPH’s main functions include: Health
Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and
Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and
Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care,
the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory. For
more information visit: www.dph.georgia.gov.