Through a partnership Mosquito Surveillance Program, Public Health officials have been notified numerous mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in Lowndes County. South Georgians are encouraged to guard against exposure to mosquitoes.
“Mosquito-borne illnesses are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito,” states William Grow, MD, FACP, district health director. “The more time someone is outdoors, the more time the person is at risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito; that is why we encourage everyone to take all precautions against mosquito bites.”
People are urged to take the following precautions:
- Use insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or PMD. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
- Any containers that can collect water should be discarded or dumped daily.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk to reduce the amount of exposed skin, as weather permits.
- Avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn, peak mosquito biting times, if possible.
- Set up outdoor fans to keep mosquitoes from flying near you.
“While most people infected with West Nile Virus show no symptoms of the illness and pass it on their own, even healthy people have become severely ill for weeks when infected,” says Dr. Grow. “EEE is extremely rare in humans; however, is extremely concerning because it involves inflammation of the brain.”
Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that usually develop 2 to 14 days after being infected. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease. Severe cases of EEE begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting.
There is no vaccine for humans for these mosquito-borne diseases, nor is there a specific treatment. People with severe cases are hospitalized and receive supportive care such as intravenous fluids and respiratory treatment. The best protection is to avoid being bitten. Horses can be vaccinated for some mosquito-borne diseases by contacting a local veterinarian.
According to Lowndes County PIO, Paige Dukes, Lowndes County is following local spraying protocols. The Public Works Department is offering free larvicide to residents in the unincorporated area. Larvicide can help reduce mosquito populations in areas where standing water cannot be eliminated through traditional drainage methods. For more information, contact Lowndes County Public Works at 229-671-2700.
According to Ashlyn Becton, the City of Valdosta uses every resource available to municipalities to protect its citizens from mosquito-borne diseases through a Public Works operated spraying and larvicide program, a joint surveillance program with Valdosta State University and Lowndes County, and through public education.
The city operates a spraying program on a four-day cycle throughout the City with spraying five days a week, if needed, at dusk. Spraying typically begins in early April. In addition to the City’s normal spraying program, when an infected mosquito, human or animal is found, the City activates its response plan, calling for immediate, intensive and continued spraying in the areas where the viruses have been positively identified.
The City’s Public Works Department treats nearly two dozen bodies of stagnant water on public property each month utilizing Larvicide tablets. These tablets are also available for free to city residents who maintain their own privately-owned bodies of stagnant water. Citizens with questions about mosquito safety may call the Public Works Department at 229-259-3597.
For more information about mosquito-borne diseases, call your local health department or visit www.cdc.gov/.