First person infected with West Nile Virus in Dougherty County

First person infected with West Nile Virus in Dougherty County

DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - The Southwest Public Health District has confirmed that someone in Dougherty County has been hospitalized after being diagnosed with the West Nile Virus.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, an older adult with pre-existing conditions who spent time outdoors contracted the virus in Albany.

The resident is being treated in Dougherty County.

The GDPH also said a horse has also tested positive for West Nile in Worth County.

"With recent rains, we have seen plenty of mosquito activity," said Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Charles Ruis. "More mosquito activity increases the chances for mosquito bites. The best protection against West Nile virus – and other mosquito-borne illnesses including Zika – is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes."

GDPH said two other cases have been reported in the state.

Last year, there were six cases in the state with none of them being reported in the Southwest district.

The Department of Public Health said that Georgia typically sees six to 10 cases of West Nile Virus per year.

"About 20 percent of people infected experience headache, fever, fatigue, joint pain and general weakness, and recover completely within a few days," Ruis said. "But about one percent of those infected get seriously ill, with high fever, muscle weakness, paralysis and sometimes death."

The GDPH said that those with pre-existing medical conditions and older adults are the most likely to see severe symptoms.

Ruis suggests the following to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Apply insect repellent. DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective repellents recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • When possible, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks, particularly at dawn and dusk and in mosquito-prone areas.
  • Eliminate standing water in gutters, planters, toys, wheelbarrows and old tires. A mosquito needs only a few drops of water in order to breed and lay eggs.
  • Trim tall grass, weeds, and vines to discourage mosquitoes.
  • Ensure window and door screens fit tightly to keep mosquitoes out of the home. For more information about West Nile Virus, visit or contact your county health department.

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