Protecting yourself from West Nile - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Protecting yourself from West Nile

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September 7, 2006

Albany - Another case of West Nile virus in Dougherty County. A 59-year old man Northwest Albany man is the third confirmed case of the virus in Dougherty County. Unlike the last reported victim, this man survived. And this again underscores the need to protect yourself from mosquitoes.

80% of people who get West Nile virus don't get sick. But those who do, can get really sick. Dr. Craig Smith says, "They came in with high fevers, they had the body aches, they had other symptoms that made it suspicious at this time of the year, knowing that August and September is the most common time for West Nile, that that's what we should look for."

Symptoms are most common in the elderly, or those with other medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer, and may resemble the flu.  Dr. Smith says, "During the summertime there's no major influenza type viruses, so if somebody comes in with a high fever or severe headache or something more profound than just the average cold, we're suspicious."

Here's a good rule of thumb when it comes to West Nile: If you come down with a fever, maybe have chills and a backache, and no one else in your office, family or church is suffering and your symptoms persist, you should see a doctor. He'll let you know if you need to be tested. There's little you can do to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes, even with repellant on, some may still attack. Your best defense is to get rid of them.  Smith says, "What people don't realize is as small as a teaspoon of water in some cases, just a coca-cola bottle cap, could be enough to have water in it, to have mosquito breeding."

And if we allow them to continue breeding they could bring even more disease.  He says, "We still have mosquitoes and mother nature is still creating new diseases and introducing old diseases, so there's a good chance, West Nile is right now, but there's no telling what might be in another five years."

And what we may have to fight, if we don't combat the mosquito problem now. The man who contracted the third case of West Nile lives in the Palmyra area in Northwest Albany.

There have been four reported cases of West Nile in Georgia this year. One in Fulton County, three here in Dougherty County. In August, a 76-year-old East Albany man died. Earlier that month, an Albany woman was Georgia's first diagnosed case of West Nile. She is recovering.

The number of west nile cases in Georgia has declined the last couple of years. The Centers for Disease Control says the virus first showed up in humans in 2001 when six people were diagnosed and one died. 20 people came down with the virus last year and two died. So far this year, there have been four cases and one death in georgia.

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