County Health Services Prepares For 2012 West Nile Virus Season

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    Special to the Daily World

    Fulton County Health Services urges residents to use preventive measures to deter mosquito growth in their neighborhoods. West Nile Virus (WNV) can cause a serious illness and is transmitted from mosquitoes to humans. The occurrence of this virus increases in the summer and continues into the fall. “We are entering the season for increased mosquito activity,” says Patrice A. Harris, MD, director of Fulton County Health Services. “In 2011, two human cases of West Nile Virus were identified in Fulton. It is important for us to continue our prevention program and for everyone to use preventive measures to protect themselves and their families against the virus.”

    The Fulton County Department of Health Services will be trapping and testing mosquitoes in 30 locations throughout the county. Also, catch basins are treated around identified “hot spots” associated with areas where WNV activity is known to occur and around locations such as senior centers, schools and hospitals where highly susceptible individuals gather.

    Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. WNV can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and lining of the brain). People with weak immune systems or other underlying conditions are at greater risk of experiencing complications from the disease.

    Dr. Harris adds, “West Nile Virus is a serious illness but is preventable if we take action to reduce our exposure to mosquito bites.”

    Mosquitoes need water to breed. Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by removing areas of standing water; 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; repair leaky pipes and outside faucets; keep gutters cleaned and sloped to the downspout, among other preventable measures. Mosquitoes that carry the WNV bite during the evening, night and early morning. Take precautions to protect yourself and your family during these periods. For more information on WNV and prevention methods, call the Mosquito Hotline: 404-730-5296 or contact the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Environmental Health at 404-613-1301.

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