West Nile Virus found in mosquito sample collected in Chatham Co.

West Nile Virus found in mosquito sample collected in Chatham Co.

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham County Mosquito Control reports that the West Nile Virus has been found in a sample of mosquitoes collected from an area in south Savannah.

According to Coastal Health District, this is the first positive West Nile Virus test in the Chatham County mosquito population this year. Mosquito Control routinely collects and samples mosquitoes from around the county.

No human cases of WNV have been confirmed this year in Georgia.

“With this we’ll monitor the area, we’ll monitor all of our other sites. We have traps throughout the county. We’ll see where else it pops up. But out in this area, we already have an aerial mission planned for this evening to cut down the adult population as much as possible,” Chatham County Mosquito Control Director Ture Carlson said.

Carlson said this case comes later in the season than any other case in recent years, and points to a hot, dry July as the reason.

“We haven’t had a lot of mosquito complaints. But the ones we’re finding is really based on breeding in backyards. There’s a lot of containers either in their own back yard or a neighbor’s back yard or there’s something in the neighborhood. And getting rid of all that water is absolutely critical right now,” Carlson said.

According to the Coastal Health District, West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Fortunately, most people infected do not feel sick. About 20 percent of people who are infected will have mild symptoms like a fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. However, a West Nile Virus infection can be serious, and 1 out of 150 infected people develop a severe, sometimes fatal, illness.

“This report of West Nile Virus in our mosquito population is unwelcome but not unexpected, as we typically see mosquito activity increase in the summer,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. “There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile Virus, so the best protection is to avoid mosquito bites.”

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 outdoor containers holding standing water 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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