First lab-confirmed human case of West Nile Virus in the Coastal Health District in 2019
An adult living in Chatham County has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus (WNV), a potentially serious illness transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. This is the first human case in the 8-county Coastal Health District in 2019, and the 4th human case of WNV in Georgia this year.
Chatham County Mosquito Control first detected and reported WNV in a sample of local mosquitoes in July, and the virus quickly spread throughout the mosquito population across the county. Already, 2019 is the second most active year for WNV in Chatham County mosquitoes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of people who get WNV won’t have any symptoms. Those who do become sick typically develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. However, about 1 in 150 will develop severe symptoms affecting the central nervous system, which could be fatal. Last year, there were 36 lab-confirmed cases of WNV in humans in Georgia, and 2 deaths.
There is no vaccine to prevent WNV, and no treatment other than supportive care for the symptoms. That’s why the Coastal Health District is urging everyone to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes that carry WNV are more likely to bite during the evening, night, and early morning. Wearing insect repellent containing the chemical DEET will help keep mosquitoes away. Eliminating standing water around the home and yard to keep mosquitoes from breeding.
Tip containers such as children’s toys, flowerpots, and planters after every rain or at least once a week and toss out anything that holds water, such as old tires or cans. Also clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves, and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes.
The Coastal Health District encourages everyone to follow the 5 Ds of mosquito bite prevention:
Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. If you can, avoid going outside at dusk and dawn to reduce your chance of being bitten.
Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin. If the mosquitoes can’t get to your skin, they can’t bite you.
Any skin that is exposed should be covered with an insect repellent containing DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label regarding how to apply and how often to reapply.
Mosquitoes need standing water for breeding, so be sure to empty any containers holding stagnant water, such as buckets, barrels, flowerpots, and tarps. Be especially mindful after a rain, and toss any standing water to discourage mosquito breeding around your home.
Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly. If you have screens on your windows and doors, be sure to fix any rips or tears so mosquitoes can’t get through the screens and into your home.