By Mackenzie N. Morgan
DeKalb County District Health Director Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford is urging the public to take extra precaution while outdoors after health officials confirmed a West Nile virus-related death in the county on Oct. 4. The DeKalb woman was in her 90s and a resident of Dunwoody. According to health officials, this is DeKalb’s second West Nile case and first death from the virus.
“On behalf of the Board of Health, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family during this difficult time,” said Ford. “Although it’s rare, in some cases, West Nile virus can be fatal. Remember, even though fall has arrived, everyone must still take precautions. The risk of contracting the virus remains whenever temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” emphasized Ford.
“Symptoms for West Nile virus that require hospitalization include disorientation, flu-like symptoms and a fever that does not respond to regular intervention,” said Ford.
Health officials say prolonged warm weather and standing pools of water from heavy summer rains make it easier for mosquitoes to breed and bite people. Children who spend time playing outside and jumping in puddles are at an increased risk, if not properly protected, warn health officials.
To reduce the spread of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, mosquito control technicians routinely test mosquitoes throughout the county for viruses. Storm drains and other sources of standing water are treated with larvicide to keep young mosquitoes from becoming flying biting adults. In addition to the health department’s mosquito control program, the DeKalb County Board of Health is conducting door-to-door campaigns to educate the public on how to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and mosquito bite prevention.
For more information about the West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, contact the DeKalb County Board of Health’s Environmental Health division at 404-508-7900 or visit www.dekalbhealth.net/envhealth.
To reduce mosquitoes in and around your home:
- Reduce mosquito breeding in your yard by eliminating standing water in gutters and items such as planters, toys, wheelbarrows and old tires.
- Discourage mosquitoes from resting in your yard by trimming tall grass, weeds and vines.
- Make sure window and door screens fit tightly to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
To prevent being bitten by mosquitoes:
- Reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk, when the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus are most active.
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Apply according to label instructions.
- Spray clothing with products containing permethrin. Also apply according to label instructions.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors, particularly at dawn and dusk and in areas with large numbers of mosquitoes.