What You Need to Know: West Nile Virus

First signs of West Nile virus logged in DeKalb County

The DeKalb County health department says mosquitoes found in traps in Tucker tested positive for West Nile virus.

These are the first known cases of the virus in DeKalb this year, according to a Board of Health press release. No human cases have been reported.

RELATED CONTENT: ABOUT WEST NILE VIRUS

Eric Nickens, a Board of Heath spokesman, said the board’s staff is now treating storm drains in southeast Tucker to eliminate mosquito larvae before they become adults. The department is also responding to residents’ requests for assistance and will take similar actions across the county if positive testing occurs.

In Metro Atlanta, West Nile is the most common mosquito-borne illness. Last year, the Georgia Department of Public Health said seven deaths statewide were attributed to the disease.

Of 64 confirmed cases in Georgia last year of humans testing positive for West Nile, DeKalb County had the highest number at seven.

Roughly one out of every five people who contract West Nile virus will develop symptoms like headaches, fever or body aches. Less than 1 percent will experience severe neurological effects like meningitis or encephalitis, which could lead to death.

Clockwise from top left: The deer tick, which transmits Lyme disease; the American dog tick, which transmits Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia; the Culex pipiens mosquito, which transmits West Nile virus; and the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits Zika, dengue and chikungunya. CONTRIBUTED BY THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The announcement that mosquitoes carrying West Nile had been discovered in DeKalb came one day after the Board of Health announced it had deployed traps to monitor for diseases. After mosquitoes are collected at the traps, they are examined to determine species, sorted and tested.

The county’s trapping and testing program typically begins in July and may continue through November, Nickens said.

The Board of Health also provides residents with a list of precautions in order to stop the spread of West Nile as part of its mosquito control program. Those suggestions include:

  • eliminate standing water in gutters and yard debris;
  • trim grass, weeds and vines;
  • wear long sleeves, pants and socks outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk;
  • make sure doors and screens are tight and not in need of repair;
  • wear bug spray with DEET or other ingredients proven effective.

LEARN MORE: STAYING SAFE DURING SUMMER

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