Southland braces for West Nile attack -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Southland braces for West Nile attack

August 8, 2002

Officials say a dead bird found in Cobb County has tested positive for the West Nile virus. The bird was found July 31 near the Cobb County Civic Center.

Russell Moorehead -- public works director -- said yesterday the city of Marietta is putting larvacide tablets, an insecticide that kills mosquito larvae, in storm drains within a 300-yard radius of the site where the bird was found. Moorehead told the Marietta Daily Journal that spraying is not planned, because spraying affects only flying mosquitoes, not larvae or eggs.

Murl McCall, the director of the Cobb Board Center for Environmental Health, says the county will consider spraying only if a human case occurs. So far this year, no human cases of the mosquito-borne virus have been reported in Georgia.

Dozens of dead birds are turning up in Alabama -- as a result of the West Nile virus, even in one majestic bird that had been housed at the Montgomery City Zoo. It was confirmed today that an 18-year-old Golden Eagle died of the virus last month.

The governor's office said that a 72-year-old Dale County man has been diagnosed with West Nile, the first human case in the state this year. Officials did not release the man's name.

On October 30th last year a 44-year-old Birmingham man died from the virus, the first and only such casualty in Alabama. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito don't become noticeably ill, but some develop flu-like symptoms, and the weak and the elderly can get encephalitis, a potentially fatal brain infection. Brian Whitley of the Department of Public Health said he suspects the virus is now present in all 67 counties in Alabama, even though not every county has had a confirmed case.

Doctors suspect a northeast Florida woman might be the first person infected with West Nile virus in Florida this year. Eighteen-year-old Sandy Hudson of Crescent Beach was tested after her doctor determined she had many symptoms of the virus. It could be Friday before test results are received.

Hudson lives in St. Johns County, where officials said earlier this week that a sentinel chicken was found to have the virus. Mosquitoes spread the virus from infected birds to humans, who can then develop deadly encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. The potentially fatal virus infected 12 people in Florida last year Bird tests positive for West Nile virus in Cobb County

Even though the West Nile virus appears to be spreading, federal health officials say people shouldn't panic. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus has been found in mosquitoes and birds in more than 30 states. Several states are reporting confirmed or suspected cases in humans. Louisiana has the worst outbreak by far -- reporting five deaths from the virus and dozens of people infected.

CDC chief Julie Gerberding says people can prevent infection by doing what they usually do to ward off mosquito bites. The virus is carried by mosquitoes, but can't be passed on by humans. Gerberding tells NBC's "Today" show that warm, wet, mosquito-friendly weather is to blame for the outbreak in the Southern states.

  • West Nile-State by State Breakdown

State-by-state list of the numbers of confirmed and suspected West Nile virus cases.

  • Louisiana: 71 cases confirmed, five deaths linked to the virus.
  • Mississippi: 28 cases: 15 confirmed, 13 probable
  • Alabama: One case confirmed.
  • Illinois: one case confirmed
  • Texas: 11 probable cases.
  • Arkansas: One case suspected.
  • Florida: One case possible. The patient has symptoms of West Nile, but her blood has not yet been tested.
  • Tennessee: Doctors suspect that dozens of patients with flu-like symptoms have West Nile virus, but say none is sick enough to call for extensive testing.


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