Cobb & Douglas Public Health has confirmed the first two human cases of West Nile Virus this year. A 75-year-old male and 55-year-old female, both Cobb County residents were hospitalized and released.
While many people who are infected with WNV do not have symptoms, others may experience mild or flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, and rash. Serious complications may occur in extremely rare cases.
“These cases reinforce the need for all of us to be vigilant in applying preventive measures to help control mosquito breeding. Everyone can help by doing simple things to ensure their own backyard is not a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” said Chris Hutcheson, Environmental, Center of Environmental Health, Cobb & Douglas Public Health. “Practicing prevention techniques that control mosquito breeding, coupled with applying personal protection techniques, has proven effective in reducing incidents of West Nile virus infection,” he said.
A small number of people infected may develop serious illnesses, such as meningitis (swelling of the membrane surrounding the spinal cord) or encephalitis (swelling of the brain). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that 80 percent of those bitten by an infected mosquito do not exhibit signs or symptoms of the disease. However, people over the age of 50 are at greater risk for complications from the disease.
“Rabies in humans is almost always fatal. However, it is also 100 percent preventable,” she said.
According to public health experts, the best ways to reduce your chances of being bitten by a mosquito are to prevent mosquitoes from breeding around your home and to practice personal protection measures. Health officials recommend taking the following prevention and personal protection actions:
- Avoid outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Dress appropriately when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active. Experts recommend wearing tightly woven light-colored clothing, long sleeves (when possible), pants and shoes and socks when outdoors.
- Eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes lay eggs and breed in areas with standing water. Clean gutters and empty accumulated water in flowerpots, old tires and recycling bins.
- CDC recommends use of insect repellents with DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) as an active ingredient, Picaridin, or Oil of Eucalyptus. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents containing DEET NOT be used on infants less than two months old. Always follow the directions on the package for the safest and most effective use.