Liberty County Mosquito Control is continuing its efforts to protect the public against disease-carrying mosquitoes, but is asking residents to take precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.
The county’s strong prevention message follows an announcement made by the Coastal Health District that the West Nile virus was found earlier this month in a sampling of mosquitoes in Chatham County. Liberty County Mosquito Control Director Jack Vereen also mentioned to commissioners during a July 18 meeting that one human case was reported in Brantley County.
According to a release from the Southeast Health District, posted online at sehdph.org, this human case was the first confirmed case in Georgia and the 10th positive case of West Nile virus reported in the United States. The release states the Georgia resident was infected in May and recovered without hospitalization or complications.
Vereen stressed to commissioners that his department has not found any evidence of West Nile in Liberty County in mosquito samples they’ve sent to a University of Georgia laboratory for testing.
Also, no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in the coastal area, according to Coastal Health District spokesperson Sally Silbermann.
“We’ve had no reports of West Nile virus in humans in our health district,” Silbermann said. “Keep in mind that 80 percent of people who contract the virus have such a mild version that they never even know they have it or had it. Of course, the public health message is always about prevention.”
West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes and can cause mild to serious illness, according to a July 15 health-district news release. Infected mosquitoes are more likely to bite during the evening, night and early morning, the release said.
About one in five people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop a fever with other symptoms, including headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a rash. Less than 1 percent of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control website.
Individuals can take simple steps to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes and deter the pesky insects from breeding, Vereen said.
He urged residents to wear insect repellent when outside and to reduce potential breeding grounds by emptying containers of standing water. Despite all the rain the county has been hit with this summer, most mosquitoes aren’t breeding in roadside ditches; they’re breeding in water-filled containers in residents’ backyards, he said.
“I answer all mosquito complaints,” Vereen said. “I don’t care how many times they call in, I will go out to their house. I record every call that comes in. We spray the whole county every five days.”
Vereen said mosquito control’s three drivers make regular runs and sometimes will combine their efforts for a “blitz” when an area is overrun with salt-marsh mosquitoes that might come into a specific area. Vereen said his department begins spraying for mosquitoes as soon as the weather warms and will keep spraying until the temperature dips in October or November.
The health district recommends residents prevent contracting mosquito-borne diseases by avoiding mosquito bites. They suggest people follow the five “Ds”:
• Drain all standing water
• Avoid dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
• Dress appropriately in long sleeves and pants
• Defend or “DEET” oneself against mosquitoes with an effective repellent
• Doors and windows should be in good condition
For more information, go to gachd.org.