West Nile Virus Found in Garden City Mosquitoes

For the first time in three years, West Nile virus has shown up in Chatham County. Chatham County Mosquito Control found a pool of mosquitoes in Garden City infected with the virus. Officials say no humans, birds or other animals have tested positive for West Nile.

While mosquito control has stepped up their spraying efforts, they are warning people to protect themselves.

It's that time of the year when mosquito's are on the prowl. In Garden City, health officials say one area may have to be extra careful.

"What this means is there is West Nile virus activity in our county and people need to take the extra precaution to make sure they don't get bit by a mosquito," Public Health spokesperson Ginger Heidel told WTOC.

Heidel says mosquito control is dealing with the situation, but there are some steps you can take. They are called the "5 D's" of mosquito prevention.

The first two, dusk and dawn. Avoid being outside at these times because mosquitoes are more active.

If you do go outside, dress appropriately. Wear long sleeves and pants to reduce skin exposure.

Also, use mosquito repellants with the chemical DEET in it. It's the most effective spray.

And, the final "D" is drain. Heidel says dump all empty containers holding water. The stagnant water can help breed mosquitoes. "It would mean tires in the backyard which collect water, or puddles which need to be swept out or flower pots," she said. "Anything which collects stagnant rain water."

This may also mean you will see more mosquito control planes fly over your house now, spraying for mosquitoes. "We just want to make sure we stop them before they get to humans and animals," she said.

Health officials say in many cases of West Nile in humans, people won't know they have it. In an extreme case, a person who is infected with the virus suffers from high fever, neck stiffness and could suffer a coma-like state or paralysis.

You can find more about West Nile on the Chatham County Health website at, http://www.gachd.org.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com