Officials urge residents to use caution, prevent Zika outbreak - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Officials urge residents to use caution, prevent Zika outbreak

Officials are urging Georgia residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes to prevent a Zika outbreak in Georgia. (Source: WALB) Officials are urging Georgia residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes to prevent a Zika outbreak in Georgia. (Source: WALB)
Health officials urge people to dump out any standing water around homes. (Source: WALB) Health officials urge people to dump out any standing water around homes. (Source: WALB)
Zika carrying mosquitoes are not confirmed in Georgia yet, but health officials said people considering starting a family should research if they have been to Zika zones. (Source: WALB) Zika carrying mosquitoes are not confirmed in Georgia yet, but health officials said people considering starting a family should research if they have been to Zika zones. (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Enviornmental Control Manager Donnell Mathis (Source: WALB) Dougherty County Enviornmental Control Manager Donnell Mathis (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Zika is not in Georgia yet, but the Southwest Health District is preparing for the possibility of a Zika mosquito outbreak in the state one day. 

Public works officials urge south Georgians to take steps to protect themselves, by mosquito proofing their homes.

Dougherty County Environmental Control Manager Donnell Mathis sets out mosquito traps in the 400 block of Highland Avenue, one of the last areas where West Nile disease was verified three years ago.  

"Put out traps to try to see what's going on or are we getting a lot of mosquitoes, or what type of mosquito are we getting out of that area," said Mathis.

While August is the month West Nile is most prevalent, Southwest Georgia's Health District is also thinking about Zika.

"There is no need to panic, but we want to protect ourselves.  We want to minimize the chance of having the virus in the area. And we want to protect ourselves from getting bites from mosquitoes," said Southwest Health Director Dr. Charles Ruis.

Health officials urge people to wear long pants and sleeves, use DEET repellent, make sure doors and window screens are in good repair and dump out any standing water around homes.

"Anything that can hold water, can breed mosquitoes, as small as a bottle cap," explained Mathis. "So it's very important that we don't just look at the big areas that we think is a problem, but small areas as well."

Zika carrying mosquitoes are not confirmed in Georgia yet, but health officials said people considering starting a family should research if they have been to Zika zones.

"Death is rare, but the birth defects can be very severe and permanent," said Ruis.

Health officials are preparing for a Zika outbreak, and urge people to protect themselves from mosquitoes to prevent one.

80 percent of people infected with Zika experience mild or no symptoms, which are rash, fever, joint pain and red eyes.

If you or your partner have visited Zika zones like the Caribbean or South America, health officials recommend you read the information about sexual transmission of Zika at the CDC's page about protecting yourself or visit the CDC's website.

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