West Nile Virus has been detected in Coastal Georgia. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself

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The Gist: West Nile Virus has been detected in Coastal Georgia near Bookman.

More details: A mosquito sample collected by Mosquito Control Services in the Brookman area of Glynn County has tested positive for West Nile virus. Mosquito Control routinely collects and samples mosquitoes in several areas of Glynn County, and this is the first sample with a positive test result this year.

What is being done about it?: Mosquito Control Services will be spraying the area during the next several nights, as well as implementing increased surveillance and larvicide activities.

Is it an outbreak?: No human cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed this year in any Coastal Health District counties, including Glynn.

The virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes and can cause mild to serious illness.

How serious is West Nile Virus?: “Most people who become infected won’t even show symptoms, but about 1 in 5 may develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. “A small number of people may become seriously ill and could die from West Nile virus.”

What can I do?: The Coastal Health District is encouraging all residents to take extra precautions now that the virus is actively circulating in the local mosquito population.

“There are simple things we can all do to protect ourselves from mosquito bites and discourage mosquito breeding around our homes and yards,” said Davis.

One of the most effective ways to keep mosquitoes from your yard is by eliminating standing water, which mosquitoes need for breeding.

One method experts advise is to “Tip ‘n Toss.” After every rainfall, tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, wading pools, buckets, and anything else that may be holding water. If it holds water and you don’t need it (old tires, bottles, cans), toss it out. It’s also a good idea to change water frequently in outdoor pet dishes, change bird bath water at least twice a week, and avoid using saucers under outdoor potted plants.

For containers without lids or that are too big to Tip ‘n Toss (garden pools, etc.), use larvicides and follow the label instructions. These larvicides will not hurt birds or animals. In addition, clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves, and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes.

Personal protection is also important, and residents are always encouraged to follow the 5 Ds of mosquito bite prevention:

  • Dusk/Dawn: Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Dress: Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • DEET: Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
  • Drain: Empty any containers holding standing water – buckets, barrels, flowerpots, tarps – because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Doors: Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.
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