Fulton County woman tests positive for West Nile virus

Fulton County woman tests positive for West Nile virus

Callie Pierce, a seasonal staff member at DeKalb County Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health, checks a mosquito trap at Brookside Park. 

FULTON COUNTy, Ga. — A 44-year-old Fulton County woman was diagnosed with West Nile virus, the first human case in the county this year.

Fulton's board of health announced the diagnosis late Wednesday afternoon. In a statement, the county said the diagnosis was verified by a local hospital, but gave no more information about the case.

West Nile is a mosquito-transmitted disease that can cause illness or death. Elmer Gray, a public health extension specialist at the University of Georgia, said the virus can be particularly dangerous for people who are susceptible to it.

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"It's definitely a concern," he said. "People need to take precautions."

Those precautions include wearing insect repellent, long sleeves at night and loose, light-colored clothing during the day, he said. In a statement, the county recommended eliminating standing water in and around the home. Water that has pooled in flower pots, or in areas as small as a bottle cap, can be good mosquito breeding grounds, the statement said.

"Standing water is no good," Gray said. "Just be super diligent."

He said peak season for West Nile is Aug. 15 through Sept. 15, and expected that more people will be diagnosed in the coming days and weeks. The county board of health said many people infected with the disease don't have symptoms, but others experience mild or flu-like symptoms including headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands or a rash. A small number of people infected may develop serious illnesses, such as meningitis or encephalitis.

"It can be debilitating for even young, healthy folks," Gray said.

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been found in DeKalb County, as well as Fulton County. They've also been detected in Chatham County.

Only five counties in the state test for the virus; the others are Lowndes County and Glynn County.

Last year, 34 people in Georgia were found to have the virus. A Dunwoody woman in her 90s died from the disease.

Eli Jones, Fulton's deputy health director, said previously that the county put chemicals in 8,700 water basins and atop manholes with pooling water to kill mosquito larvae before they mature. Earlier this summer, mosquitoes at Frankie Allen Park near Buckhead had tested positive for West Nile.