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Fulton County Prepares for West Nile Virus Season

Here are some tips to protect yourself from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

Fulton County Health Services is urging residents to use preventive measures to deter mosquito growth in their neighborhoods. 

West Nile Virus (WNV) can cause serious illness and is transmitted from mosquitoes to humans. The occurrence of this virus increases in the summer and continues into the fall. 

"We are entering the season for increased mosquito activity," says Patrice A. Harris, MD, Director of Fulton County Health Services. "In 2011, two human cases of West Nile Virus were identified in Fulton. It is important for us to continue our prevention program and for everyone to use preventive measures to protect themselves and their families against the virus."

The Fulton County Department of Health Services will be trapping and testing mosquitoes in 30 locations throughout the county. Also, catch basins identified as “hot spots” associated with areas where virus activity is known to occur and around locations such as senior centers, schools and hospitals where highly susceptible individuals gather are treated.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. WNV can cause encephalitis - inflammation of the brain - or meningitis - inflammation of the spinal cord and lining of the brain. People with weak immune systems or other underlying conditions are at greater risk of experiencing complications from the disease.

"West Nile Virus is a serious illness but is preventable if we take action to reduce our exposure to mosquito bites," said Harris.

Mosquitoes need water to breed

Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by removing areas of standing water:

  • Dispose of old tires. Regularly empty any metal cans, ceramic flowerpots, bottles, jars, buckets, and other water-holding containers on your property. 
  • Turn over plastic wading pools, outdoor toys and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets. 
  • Keep gutters cleaned and sloped to the downspout. 
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors.
  • Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated. Remove standing water from pool covers.
  • Make sure windows and screens are in good condition.
  • Purchase and use a larvicide to eliminate mosquito larvae in areas with standing water and in containers that cannot be dumped.

Mosquitoes that carry the the virus bite during the evening, night and early morning. Take precautions to protect yourself and your family during these periods. 

  • Use insect repellent containing the active ingredient N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET). Spray the top of your clothing and exposed skin. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label. 
  • Wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk.

For more information on West Nile Virus and prevention methods, call the Mosquito Hotline: 404-730-5296 or contact the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Environmental Health at 404-613-1301. 

More information can be found at www.fultoncountygahealth.org.

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