VALDOSTA — Public Health officials are encouraging South Georgians to take precautions whenever outdoors to guard against mosquito-borne illnesses. 

South Health District has received two confirmed reports of West Nile Virus through mosquito testing in Lowndes County and one confirmed case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in an emu in Lanier County.

“While we see reports of mosquito-borne illnesses each year, it’s crucial for us to remember the importance of preventing mosquito bites whenever possible,” ssid William Grow,  district health director.  “Although most people may not get sick after being bit by a mosquito, some people do develop a mild illness and on rare occasions some develop a severe or long-term illness. Severe cases of mosquito-borne illness can be life threatening.” 

 Most mosquito-borne illnesses are transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. 

“Even though it’s rare for a human to be infected with these illnesses, the risk is higher for people who spend a lot of time outdoors, live in wooded or swampy areas, or have traveled overseas to certain areas,” says Dr. Grow.

Tips to prevent mosquito bites are:

• Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing.

• Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits.

• Have secure, intact screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

• Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets, barrels, wading pools and other containers. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.

• Be sure to use repellent and wear protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider indoor activities during these times due to peak mosquito biting hours.

For more information on mosquito borne illnesses visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov. 

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