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West Nile reported in Bulloch
Case also confirmed in Bryan County Wednesday
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A Bryan County man was diagnosed Wednesday with West Nile virus.
The discovery follows a Sept. 14 report that a Bulloch County resident also confirmed to have the disease, and health officials advise residents to take precautions.
While reports of humans with West Nile virus sound alarming, there actually is no cause for alarm. Once the virus is confirmed in an area, it’s pretty much there to stay, said Roger Naylor, the public relations director for the Southeast Health District, which includes Bulloch, Candler, Evans and Tattnall counties.
“It’s always around,” he said. “I don’t know that West Nile has ever gone away.”
Mosquitoes thrive in warmer temperatures and while they are more plentiful in the summer, they still buzz around in the fall until frost and colder weather arrive, he said.
While there is a vaccine against West Nile virus for horses — there have been positive equine cases for the virus this year in Appling County as well as Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Brantley, Candler, Coffee, Peirce and Wayne counties — there is no approved vaccine for humans or other animals, Naylor said.
People get West Nile virus when they are bitten by a mosquito that is carrying it. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, he said.
As of Sept. 14, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 36 human cases in Georgia with three deaths. The people who contracted the virus in Bulloch and Bryan counties did not die.
“Public Health is strongly urging residents to take precautions to protect against mosquito bites and the possible spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile,” he said.
Around 80 percent of those infected with the virus show no symptoms; while up to 20 percent have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a rash, Naylor said.
There is no specific treatment for the virus, he said. “People with severe cases are hospitalized and receive supportive care, such as intravenous fluids and respiratory treatment.”
 “The most effective actions we can take to protect against mosquitoes are to reduce their breeding areas and to use mosquito repellant on ourselves,” added Dwain Butler, the Southeast Health District’s environmental health director. “Pour out stagnant water in birdbaths, pet dishes, old tires and any other receptacle in which mosquitoes might breed. This will greatly reduce mosquito populations.”
He also recommends using mosquito repellant on exposed skin and clothing when outdoors during times mosquitoes are most active, usually early morning or evening hours. Recommended repellants contain: DEET, picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. All repellants should be used according to package instructions.
Residents also should check and repair windows and doors that have screens.  Limiting exposure to mosquitoes during early morning hours or in the evening is advisable, Naylor said.

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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