GAINESVILLE - State health officials have verified that a White County woman has West Nile virus.
This is the first ever verified human case in northeast Georgia - and the second in the state this year. The year's first case was a man in Bartow County which was confirmed earlier this month.
The White County woman - described as in her early 60s - was admitted to Northeast Georgia Medical Center a couple of weeks ago, suffering from symptons of West Nile. Health officials reported Tuesday that she does have the mosquito-borne virus.
Georgia reported 44 human cases and seven deaths last year.
Melody A. Stancil, M.D., District 2 Health Director, reminds residents, "protect yourself and your family members from mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and long pants when outdoors and using a repellant containing DEET, being especially careful to follow the label directions. If possible, it is a good idea to limit outdoor activities during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active."
Dr. Stancil says it is also important to look around your home and property and empty any standing water from containers such as flower pots, tires, gutters and birdbaths where mosquitoes breed. Mosquitoes usually remain within a limited area of where they hatch, often traveling no more than one-half mile.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Culex quinquefasciatus, also known as the southern house mosquito, is the mosquito most commonly responsible for transmitting the virus to humans in Georgia.
West Nile virus is usually a mild disease and most people who are infected will experience no symptoms or only mild symptoms such as headache, fever, and muscle aches.
Adults over fifty years of age and persons with weak immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe illness, such as swelling of the brain, when infected with West Nile virus.
Overall, only about one in every 150 people bitten by an infected mosquito will become severely ill.