West Nile Virus Confirmed in Houston County
The North Central Health District recently received reports of three confirmed West Nile Virus (WNV) cases in Houston County. While cases of West Nile have been numerous across the nation and the state, these three cases are the first for the North Central Health District (NCHD).
The reported cases were in a 10 year old male, a 65 year old male and a 70 year old female, who were each hospitalized due to their illness.
Dr. David Harvey, District Health Director for the NCHD, said, “While we have only seen confirmed cases in Houston County, this should serve as a reminder for all Middle Georgians that disease-carrying mosquitoes are out there and residents should protect themselves against mosquito bites.”
Harvey further explained, “Cooler weather will help alleviate some of the mosquitoes in our area, but residents should still be cautious.”
The NCHD urges residents to observe the “Five Ds of WNV Prevention.”
- Dusk: Mosquitoes carrying WNV usually bite at dusk and dawn
- Dawn: Avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn if possible. If you must be outside, be sure to protect yourself from bites.
- Dress: Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
- DEET: Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
- Drain: Empty any containers holding standing water because they can be excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease. Of those who become infected with WNV, most will fight off the virus without any symptoms or will develop less severe West Nile fever. About one in 150 people bitten by infected mosquitoes will develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord). Approximately 10 percent of people with a severe form of WNV infection die from their illness, and others suffer from long-term nervous system problems.
People with questions about WNV should speak to their healthcare providers or call their local county health department’s environmental health office.
More information on WNV can be found below: CDC's West Nile Virus Page Repellent Information from the CDC