Preventing bites is key in the fight against mosquito-borne illnesses

Mosquitoes can carry Eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus and Chikungunya. They are most active at dawn and dusk during the summer.

A Dunwoody woman in her 90s has died from West Nile virus.

DeKalb County Board of Health confirmed the woman’s death today as the first human-related West Nile virus death in the county. She is the second human case of West Nile virus infection reported in the county this year. 

The Board of Health did not name the woman. 

In September 2017, Georgia health officials announced three deaths from the virus and 20 confirmed cases of infection statewide. In 2017, there were seven cases of infection and no deaths.  

West Nile virus found in mosquitoes in DeKalb

S. Elizabeth Ford

Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, DeKalb's district health director, said that while death from West Nile virus is rare, the virus can be fatal in some cases.

“Remember, even though fall has arrived, everyone must still take precautions,” Ford said. “The risk of contracting the virus remains whenever temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Guard against mosquito bites to avoid the West Nile virus

Eliminate standing water outside your home. Warm weather and stagnant water are ideal conditions for breeding mosquitoes.

Ford extended “deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family during this difficult time,” and said the Board of Health continues to educate the public, including through door-to-door campaigns, to help individuals eliminate mosquito breeding sites and prevent mosquito bites.

The Board of Health, which provides an integrated mosquito control program, offers these tips for  reducing 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.
West Nile virus found in mosquitoes in DeKalb

 

Across the county, Board of Health program technicians routinely trap mosquitoes that are tested for viruses. Technicians also work with residents to reduce mosquito infestations including placing larvicide in sources of standing water, like storm drains. This keeps young mosquitoes from becoming flying biting adults.  

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile found; emphasis on removing breeding sites

Residents can reduce mosquito breeding by eliminating standing water in gutters and items such as planters, toys, wheelbarrows and old tires.

For more information about the West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, call 404-508-7900 or visit www.dekalbhealth.net/envhealth.