Ben Hill Co. horse tests positive for West Nile

Information from the South Health District

Fitzgerald, GA - The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed one positive case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a horse found in Ben Hill County. This is the third case of a mosquito-borne illness in a horse in South Health District this year.

Public Health Officials are continuing to encourage anyone outdoors to use all precautions to protect against mosquito bites. "As the weather cools off, we will start seeing less and less mosquito activity; however, this positive case of West Nile Virus proves that activity is still out in our area," states William Grow, MD, FACP, District Health Director.

People are urged to take the following precautions:

œ          Use insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or PMD. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.

œ          Any containers that can collect water should be discarded or dumped daily.

œ          Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk to reduce the amount of exposed skin, as weather permits.

œ          Avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn, peak mosquito biting times, if possible.

œ          Set up outdoor fans to keep mosquitoes from flying near you.

Mosquito-borne illnesses are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.  "While most people infected with West Nile Virus show no symptoms of the illness and pass it on their own, even healthy people have become severely ill for weeks when infected," says Dr. Grow.

Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that usually develop 3 to 14 days after being infected. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease.

There is no vaccine for the illness nor is there a specific treatment.

People with severe cases are hospitalized and receive supportive care such as intravenous fluids and respiratory treatment. The best protection is to avoid being bitten.

For more information call Ben Hill County Health Department at 426-5288 or South Health District at 866-801-5360.

For more information on West Nile Virus visit

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