Gwinnett health officials confirm West Nile case in Gwinnett

While many of Georgia’s 63 species of mosquito thrive in wet weather, southern house mosquitoes — which transmit West Nile virus — prefer dry or even drought conditions. Gwinnett County health officials confirmed a county resident has contracted the West Nile Virus. (File Photo: University of Georgia)

A Gwinnett County resident has been diagnosed with the West Nile Virus and is recovering from it, according to the Gwinnett County Health Department.

The health department confirmed the diagnosis Monday although no information is available on the identity of the victim or where they may have contracted the illness, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Health officials said they are investigating the case.

In the meantime, the health department is urging residents to take precautions so they won’t become sick.

“Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid West Nile Virus,” said Alana Sulka, director of epidemiology for Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments, in a statement. “One of the most effective ways to limit the mosquito population around your home is to practice ‘Tip ‘n Toss,’ which eliminates mosquito breeding grounds.”

Although mosquitoes can transmit the virus, it cannot be directly passed from one person to the next. Some symptoms of the virus include headaches, fever, muscle and joint pains, diarrhea, rash and vomiting, but the health department said 80 percent of people who are infected never show symptoms.

There is a higher risk to elderly residents and people with compromised immune systems to develop complications from the virus. When symptoms do show up, it is typically two to 15 days after infection, according to the health department.

Health officials recommend anyone who believes they are infected with the virus to call the health department at 770-339-4260.

Some steps the health department is recommending residents take to limit their chances of getting West Nile include:

• Tip ‘n Toss actions, including disposing of standing water in items such as tires, toys and trash and emptying and cleaning birdbaths, small pools and water features on a weekly basis.

• Treating larger bodies of water which can’t be emptied with a larvicide.

• Using insect repellents that contain DEET

• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants that are loose fitting to minimize the amount of skin that is exposed

• Minimizing the amount of time that is spent outdoors

• Putting screens on doors and windows

Gwinnett health officials also recommend residents educate themselves further on the virus by visiting www.cdc.gov/westnile.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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