Public Health Officials Warn Residents About West Nile Virus

CATOOSA COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) — Public health officials are issuing a warning for residents, after two people in Northwest Georgia contracted West Nile Virus.

One of them in Catoosa County died.

“It’s pretty scary,” said Greg May, a Red Bank resident. “We need to remember to put on our bug repellent for sure.”

May admits he doesn’t put on bug spray like he should, but he makes sure his kids are covered.

“We spray them up before they come outside,” May said. “They tend to attract mosquitoes. It’s probably because they’re so cute.”

Parkridge West Hospital Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Thomas Scoggins says there are West Nile cases across the country.

He says more than half of the people who get the virus, do not have symptoms. Only some of them actually do.

“Most people, they’ll have the infection, the symptoms will go away, and they won’t know any better, and usually once you’ve had the infection once, you won’t have it again,” Dr. Scoggins said.

Dr. Scoggins says the number of cases varies.

Health officials say in Georgia, there have been at least 20 West Nile Virus cases so far this year, with at least three deaths.

Last year, there were only seven cases, and no deaths.

“Since it is a mosquito-borne illness, conditions where you have more mosquitoes will probably make it more likely that you’ll have outbreaks,” Dr. Scoggins said.

And Scoggins says if someone contracts the virus, symptoms will start within three to six days.

The most common are body aches, fever, or a decreased appetite.

Because of these recent cases, these residents now say they’ll be prepared.

“Put your bug spray on,” May said.

To avoid getting the West Nile Virus, Dr. Scoggins says to wear insect repellent with DEET, avoid being outside between dusk and dawn, and cover up with a long sleeve shirt and pants if you’re outside to avoid bites.

Scoggins says those at highest risk are over 60 years old, or have serious medical conditions.

So far in 2017, Tennessee has recorded 11 cases – none of them fatal.


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