ATLANTA -- Georgia's first case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been confirmed in a horse in Southeast Georgia. The Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH), Division of Public Health (DPH) recommends that Georgians protect themselves from mosquitoes and remove any standing water from their property.
"While this is a non-human case, we recognize that the mosquito and tick season is starting earlier than in previous years," said Dr. Anil T. Mangla, program director of Infectious Disease & Immunization and acting state epidemiologist for DCH. "It is very wise for residents to take precautions to minimize their risk of exposure to arthropod-born diseases, protecting themselves from mosquitoes and ticks."
DCH recommends that Georgians take the following precautions for themselves and their families:
* Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
* Consider using insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or PMD. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. Symptoms usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems or other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease. In rare cases, West Nile Virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and lining of the brain), or can lead to death.
Mosquitoes need water to breed. Removing areas of standing water can eliminate breeding grounds and reduce the number of mosquitoes. The following precautionary measures are recommended to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and risk of WNV:
* Properly dispose of old tires. Regularly empty any metal cans, ceramic flowerpots, bottles, jars, buckets, and other water-holding containers on your property.
* Turn over plastic wading pools, outdoor toys and wheelbarrows when not in use.
* Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated. Remove standing water from pool covers.
* Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.
* Keep gutters cleared and sloped to the downspout.
* Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors.
* Make sure windows and screens are in good condition. Repair any holes in screens.
* Purchase and use Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Torpedoes (larvicides used to kill mosquito larvae) to control mosquitoes in areas with standing water and in containers that cannot be dumped.
Examples of other tick-borne diseases are Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and tularemia. Examples of other mosquito-borne diseases are malaria, St. Louis encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, and La Crosse encephalitis.
More information on WNV can be found at the CDC's site:
Further information on repellents is also available from the CDC: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/RepellentUpdates.htm.