Area sees first case of West Nile Virus

The first Georgia West Nile Virus (WNV) case for 2010 was confirmed in a Clayton County man in mid-April by the Georgia Department of CommunityHealth/Division of Public Health Acute Disease Epidemiology Section.

“So far, it is the only human case in the state. Usually Georgia sees its first case in June or July. The WNV season typically peaks for us in August,” said District 4 Public Health spokesperson Hayla Hall. “This early case may indicate that this will be a busy season, so we’re recommending residents familiarize themselves with prevention measures now.”

West Nile Virus is a potentially dangerous mosquito-borne illness for which there is no vaccine and no specific treatment. Georgia reported four cases during 2009, Hall said.

“The best prevention for West Nile Virus is to control the breeding sites of mosquitoes. Remember to tip and toss: tip out standing water and toss all yard debris that collects water and becomes a breeding site for mosquitoes,” said Hall.

Although human infections from mosquito-borne viruses are rare, mosquitoes can infect humans with West Nile Virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and Saint Louis Encephalitis (SLE). People can reduce their risk of contracting these viruses by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites and reducing mosquito habitats around the home.

The following is a reminder of four simple steps you can take to prevent and reduce bites:

1) Areas with standing water are locations where mosquitoes will lay eggs and breed. Drain or treat standing water with larvicides (Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Torpedoes) available at home improvement stores. Tipping out water twice a week from planters and basins around the house and yard as well as keeping gutters cleaned and properly drained can prevent mosquito problems.

2) Dawn and dusk are the times of day that mosquitoes are most active. Avoid outdoor activity at these times.

3) Dress appropriately when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active. Wear long sleeves, pants, shoes and socks, and clothing that is tightly woven to prevent mosquitoes from coming in contact with your skin.

4) Use insect repellant with an EPA-approved active ingredient such as DEET. Always follow the directions on the package for safest and most effective use. Do not use DEET on infants or pets. For children, use repellants sparingly and only use those that contain 10 percent DEET or less.