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West Nile Virus Spreading to Atlanta Area

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that there are 1,118 cases nationally through the third week of August, including one in Fulton County.

A single case of a person having the West Nile virus has been reported in Fulton County, not long after mosquitoes were found to have the virus in several location – .

The CDC says more human cases have been reported nationally than ever before.

Georgia has a reported 14 human cases, according to the CDC. Ten of those cases are considered neuroinvasive, while four are considered nonneuroinvasive.

Neuroinvasive disease cases, refers to severe cases of disease that affect a person’s nervous system. These include encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain, meningitis which is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord and acute flaccid paralysis which is an inflammation of the spinal cord that can cause a sudden onset of weakness in the limbs and/or breathing muscles.

Nonneuroinvasive disease cases refers to typically less severe cases that show no evidence of neuroinvasion—primarily West Nile fever, according to the CDC. WN fever is considered a notifiable disease. However, the number of cases reported (as with all diseases) may be limited by whether persons affected seek care, whether laboratory diagnosis is ordered and the extent to which cases are reported to health authorities by the diagnosing physician.

In a statement this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,118 human cases, the highest number reported through this point in the year since the disease hit the United States in 1999. The cases resulted in 41 deaths. One case has been reported in Fulton County, according to the CDC.

Regionally, mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus and .

The West Nile virus is generally spread by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds, the CDC says. Eighty percent of people infected by the virus show no symptoms at all, and only one in 150 people infected develop severe illness.

Three-quarters of the human cases have been reported in five states, the CDC says: Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma. Half the human cases have been in Texas.

The CDC offers these tips to help slow the spread of West Nile:

  • Regularly remove standing water from flower pots, birdbaths and other outdoor receptacles.
  • Clean out clogged gutters.
  • Look in hard-to-see places for trash that can hold water.
  • Use insect repellant on exposed skin.
  • Where long-sleeved clothing and long pants when weather permits.

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