Thursday, September 1, 2011

DeKalb Co. issues West Nile Virus warning

DeKalb County Board of Health is reporting an increase in West Nile Virus. Per an early August news release from the GA Department of Public Health,
“The problem of mosquitoes and West Nile Virus has escalated this year in Georgia, as well as the rest of the country -- with the virus causing more serious central nervous system involvement than in past years,” said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., DPH’s Director of the Division of Health Protection.
Last week, Dekalb Co. reported its first human case in Tucker, GA. Thankfully, the patient is recovering at home.

West Nile is one of several viruses that can be transmitted by mosquito bites. Late spring to early fall are peak mosquito season. As Labor Day weekend approaches and many of us hope to spend some time outdoors, it's a good time to review basic mosquito-fighting measures:
•   Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk to reduce the amount of exposed skin
•   Consider using insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or PMD.  DEET offers protection against mosquito bites up to 5 hours depending on how much DEET is in the product. Picaridin also provides relief from mosquito bites. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
•   Set up outdoor fans to keep mosquitoes from flying near you.

Symptoms of WNV 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.
Visit the CDC's West Nile page for additional information.

Additionally, because mosquitoes can go from egg to adult in under 2 weeks, it is important to routinely check for and eliminate sources of standing water. Flower pots, pet dishes, wheelbarrows, trash cans or their lids, buckets, semi-permanent puddles created by air conditioner drainage or congested gutters and downspouts, forgotten pieces of plastic or tarps--any of these can become mosquito nurseries. Mosquito dunks (biological control for intentional reservoirs such as ponds and rain caches) are another way of breaking the mosquito breeding cycle.

Since mosquitos also transmit heartworm to dogs and cats, vigilance will benefit humans and pets alike. This may be particularly important this year, as reports of a shortage of the only drug used to treat heartworm-infected animals (Immiticide®) have surfaced in the local media as well as the AVMA website.