The Georgia Public Health Laboratory verified late Wednesday afternoon that a Tift County resident tested positive for West Nile Virus. The person went to a local physician because of a fever and was treated as an outpatient. The person is now at home recovering.

The case marks the first mosquito-borne illness in the South Health District this year. In August of last year, a 76-year-old Albany man was Georgia’s first West Nile casualty. Albany is in Georgia’s Southwest Health District. There were reports of seven people contracting West Nile Virus in Georgia last year, three of them from Dougherty County and the rest from the metro Atlanta area.

West Nile Virus is a potentially serious mosquito-transmitted arbovirus disease that can cause illness or death. Most people who are infected with the disease do not have symptoms. Others might experience mild flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands and rash. A small number of people infected develop serious illnesses such as meningitis, which is swelling of the membrane surrounding the spinal cord, or encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain.

“The best prevention of the disease is to protect yourself from mosquito bites while outdoors,” said Lynne D. Feldman, M.D., MPH, District Health Director. “Remember, risk of West Nile Virus infection continues until temperatures are below 50 degrees all day and mosquitoes are no longer active.”

Health officials urge citizens to take the following preventative steps for protection against mosquito bites:

• Apply insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing anytime you are outdoors. Use an EPA-registered repellent such as those containing DEET. Products with a higher percentage of DEET general give longer protection.

• Cover exposed skin while outdoors. Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants sprayed with the repellent while outdoors can further help prevent mosquito bites.

• Avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most prevalent.

• Drain any standing water around your home to avoid a mosquito breeding area. A small amount of standing water can be enough for mosquitoes to lay eggs.

• Repair or install door and window screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

For more information on West Nile Virus, contact the Tift County Health Department at 386-8373 or the South Health District toll free at (866) 801-5360.

Additional information is also available on the Center for Disease Control’s website at www.cdc.gov or at the Georgia Division of Public Health’s website at http://health.state.ga.us.

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