September 20, 2007
The Southwest Public Health District has issued a press release addressing the West Nile case recently discovered.
Third human West Nile Virus case in district confirmed in Miller County
A 78-year-old Miller County resident has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV), Southwest Georgia Public Health District Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant announced today.
"He is recovering in Palmyra Medical Center," Grant said, adding that the patient had spent a significant amount of time outside prior to developing the disease.
It is the third human case of the mosquito-borne illness to be confirmed in the district in 2007, the first confirmed case in Miller County and the 27th in Georgia. The disease claimed the life of an 80-year-old Clayton County resident earlier this month.
Those most at risk of developing serious illnesses when infected with West Nile are people over 50 and those with weakened immune systems, said Grant.
"Around three-fourths of the confirmed West Nile cases in Georgia this year occurred in people over 50. We know that West Nile Virus is here to stay in our district," she cautioned. "Residents need to be proactive, particularly if they are 50 or older."
Most people who are infected with the disease do not have symptoms. "Those with a mild infection may experience flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes and rashes," Grant said. "A small number of people infected may develop serious illnesses such as meningitis, which is swelling of the membrane surrounding the spinal cord; or encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain."
Experts had predicted 2007 could be a year for an increased number of West Nile Virus cases because weather conditions set the stage for explosive population growth in disease-carrying mosquitoes.
In 2006, eight Georgians contracted West Nile Virus. Of that number, three were Dougherty County residents. One of the Dougherty cases was a fatality.
"We continue to urge residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and to control mosquito breeding," Grant said. "The West Nile Virus season is peaking now."
Ways to reduce the risk of infection from West Nile Virus include:
For more information about West Nile virus, go online to www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org.