What You Need to Know: West Nile Virus

DeKalb sees first West Nile-related death in 2018

A Dunwoody woman in her 90s died from the West Nile Virus, making her the first person to die from the virus in DeKalb County in 2018, health officials confirmed Thursday. 

The death is also the  second in Georgia from the virus this year. 

“On behalf of the Board of Health, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family during this difficult time,” DeKalb County District Health Director S. Elizabeth Ford said in a statement. “Although it’s rare, in some cases, West Nile virus can be fatal.” 

This is the second reported West Nile virus-related human case in Dunwoody in less than a month. On Sept. 7, a 20-something man was infected with the virus, making it the county’s first confirmed human case of the year.


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DeKalb health officials find first 2018 case of West Nile virus

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A woman in her 90s died from the West Nile Virus in DeKalb County on Thursday, health officials confirmed. 
Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention photo by James Gathany

At the time, officials said the man was recovering at home. His updated condition has not been released. 

In July, DeKalb health workers trapped a mosquito in Tucker that tested positive for West Nile virus. The Board of Health says it regularly traps mosquitoes and tests them for viruses as part of a comprehensive mosquito control program.

Ford stated that despite the fall weather, everyone must take precautions since the risk of contracting the virus remains whenever temperatures are above 50 degrees. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 people who are infected with West Nile develop a fever and other symptoms, and about 1 out of 150 develop a serious illness that can be fatal.

Georgia saw its first death from the virus in August, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Circumstances surrounding that death, including where it occurred, were not released. 

The state has had seven reported West Nile human case this year, including the recent fatal case. DeKalb health officials are conducting door-to-door campaigns to help eliminate mosquito breeding sites in an effort to prevent mosquito bites.   

Here are some tips:

  • Reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk, which is when the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus are most active; if you are outside at that time, then wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535
  • Spray clothing with products containing permethrin
  • Reduce mosquito breeding by eliminating standing water in gutters and items such as planters, toys, wheelbarrows and old tires 
  • Discourage mosquitoes from hanging out by trimming tall grass, weeds and vines
  • Make sure your windows and door screens are snug

 

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