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More information on West Nile virus can be found at the CDC’s Web site, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm
The Georgia Department of Public Health announced Friday that it has identified 21 confirmed cases of the West Nile virus in the state, including one in Forsyth County.
As a result, it is encouraging residents to take precautions against mosquitoes.
In addition to Forsyth, the department said there has been a confirmed case in neighboring Fulton County, as well as three cases in Cobb County.
The other cases include one in Bartow County, two each near Augusta and Columbus and 11 cases, three of which were fatal, in south Georgia.
The virus can lead to brain or spinal cord swelling, or even death.
Physician J. Patrick O’Neal, the department’s director of health protection, said in a statement that “the problem of mosquitoes and West Nile virus appears to be escalating in Georgia and across the country.”
“More West Nile virus cases have been confirmed by the third week in August than at any time in the last 10 years,” he said.
O’Neal went on to urge residents to prevent water from collecting in containers, where mosquitoes breed and thrive. He also suggested they limit or avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes usually bite.
In addition, residents should wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
Using an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, which is the most effective, is also recommended.
Symptoms of the virus include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease, according to the health department.
Of those who become infected with virus, most will fight off the virus without any symptoms or will develop less severe West Nile fever.
The department encourages people with questions about the virus to talk with their health care providers or call the county health department, environmental health office.