With spring comes the onset of those pesky mosquitoes, and the potential for the West Nile Virus.
According to the Georgia Department of Health, West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease of birds. It can be transmitted to humans from infected mosquitoes. In 2013, the state of Georgia reported 17 cases of WNV, with no deaths. According to the Troup County Health Department, there were no new cases of West Nile Virus in humans in the county last year, and no cases so far this year.
Dr. Michael Brackett, with the Emory Clark-Holder Clinic, said the virus usually comes in ‘waves.’ But you should still take precautions.
“Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by draining stagnate water around your home,” Brackett explained.” Fifty percent of cases could have been avoided, so house surveillance is the key.” Those items may include hoses, bird baths and flowers pots.
Brackett also suggested “blocking” mosquitoes from getting into your home. Check the screens on your windows for holes, or just keep your windows and doors closed all together. If you go outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants, if you can. Also, Brackett said insect repellents like Deet or Permethrin can be helpful.
“The more mosquito bites you get, the more risk there is,” explained Brackett. “But it only takes one bite.”
The Troup County health department said studies have consistently shown late summer to be a high risk time for the county.
“August is an active month,” said Hayla Folden, Public Information Officer for the Troup County Health Department. “More people are outside during late July and August.”
While anyone is at risk for getting West Nile Virus, Brackett said the most serious cases are usually found in the elderly, children, and newborns. The symptoms can be non specific.
“Fever, headache, muscle aches and pains,” Brackett said.
And in some cases, many people won’t realize they had the virus at all.
“Seventy or 80 percent of people will never know they had West Nile Virus,” Dr.Brackett said. They’ll be tired and achy, then it will be gone.”