SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As the temperatures decrease and summer comes to a close, we are starting to see an increase in mosquitoes in our area.
Health officials say it is important to wear insect repellant while enjoying the great outdoors to help minimize exposure to mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus.
Four cases of the virus have already been reported in Georgia.
Health officials suggest trying to avoid being outside during the early morning or evening hours.
If you are out during these hours, officials say there are many precautions you can take to protect your selves and your families.
"If you have to be out wear long sleeves, long pants," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Diane Weems. "If you can, use DEET to protect any exposed skin. Most importantly look around your yard to make sure you are not breeding mosquitoes, look for standing water. Make sure you don't have bird baths or flower pots collecting water, gutters that are clogged up."
Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. People with compromised immune systems or other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease. In rare cases, West Nile Virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and lining of the brain).
Mosquitoes need water to breed. By removing areas of standing water you will eliminate breeding grounds and reduce the number of mosquitoes. The following precautionary measures are recommended to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and risk of WNV:
- Dispose of old tires. Regularly empty any metal cans, ceramic flowerpots, bottles, jars, buckets, and other water-holding containers on your property
- Turn over plastic wading pools, outdoor toys and wheelbarrows when not in use
- Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated. Remove standing water from pool covers
- Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets
- Keep gutters cleared and sloped to the downspout
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors
- Make sure windows and screens are in good condition. Repair any holes in screens
- Purchase and use Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Torpedoes (larvicides used to kill mosquito larvae) to control mosquitoes in areas with standing water and in containers that cannot be dumped
For more information on WNV and prevention methods from the State of Georgia, visit www.health.state.ga.us.