News release from the Southwest Health District
Albany, GA - A 53-year-old Dougherty County man with underlying health conditions has had the first confirmed case of West Nile Virus in Southwest Health District this year.
"He has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering," said Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.
Georgia's first 2010 WNV case was confirmed in a Clayton County man in mid-April by the Georgia Department of Community Health/Division of Public Health Acute Disease Epidemiology Section.
"Georgia saw West Nile roughly two months earlier than usual, so Southwest Health District started sending out our prevention messages early in anticipation of a busy season," Grant said.
Typically, the number of WNV cases peaks in the region in August.
Although Southwest Health District was spared in 2009, West Nile Virus is capable of claiming lives, said Jackie Jenkins, the director of epidemiology and surveillance for Southwest Health District. In 2006, a Dougherty County man was the state's sole WNV fatality.
"West Nile Virus is a potentially dangerous mosquito-borne illness for which we have no vaccine," Jenkins said. "Last year, 722 human cases were confirmed nationwide. Thirty-three fatalities occurred."
Georgia reported four cases, none fatal, during 2009.
Around 80 percent of those infected with West Nile show no symptoms; while up to 20 percent have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a rash, Grant said.
"Those at risk of experiencing complications and severe illness from a West Nile infection include older adults, people who have received an organ transplant, young children and people with a compromised immune system," she said. "One out of roughly 150 infected with West Nile virus develop serious symptoms."
There is no specific treatment available for West Nile Virus. "People with severe cases are hospitalized and receive supportive care such as intravenous fluids and respiratory treatment," Grant said. "The best protection is to avoid getting bitten."
Ways to reduce the risk include:
Avoid outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active - at dawn and dusk
Cover exposed skin if you must be outside
Use insect repellent with active ingredients such as DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus or picaridin
Drain standing water