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South Health District

One Human and Three Horses test positive for Mosquito-borne Diseases

The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed one human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Echols County. Three horses have tested positive for mosquito-borne diseases in Brooks, Cook and Lowndes County this season. Public Health Officials in South Georgia encourage everyone to guard against exposure to mosquitoes.

“Mosquito-borne illnesses are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito,” states Kenneth Lowery, district epidemiologist. “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 Lowery.

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.

There is no West Nile Virus vaccine for humans 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.

For more information about mosquito-borne diseases, call your local health department or visit www.cdc.gov/.

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