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Protect yourself against mosquitoes, ticks | Health

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Protect yourself against mosquitoes, ticks
Protect yourself against mosquitoes, ticks

ATLANTA -- The state's first 2011 case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been confirmed in a horse in Southeast Georgia.

Now, the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) recommends that all Georgians protect themselves from mosquitoes and remove any standing water from their property.

"While this is a non-human case, we recognize that the mosquito and tick season is starting earlier than in previous years," said Dr. Anil T. Mangla, program director of infectious disease & immunization and acting state epidemiologist for the DCH. "It is very wise for residents to take precautions to minimize their risk of exposure to arthropod-born diseases, protecting themselves from mosquitoes and ticks."

DCH advises that Georgians take the following precautions for themselves and their families:

* Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk, to reduce the amount of exposed skin

* Consider using insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or PMD; be sure to follow the instructions on the label

* Mosquitoes need water to breed; properly dispose of old tires and 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

* Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers

* Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets

* Keep gutters cleared and sloped to the downspout

* Drill holls in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors

* Make sure windows and screens are in good condition; repair any holes in screens

* Purchase and use Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Torpedoes to control mosquitoes in areas with standing water and in containers that cannot be easily emptied

Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. These symptoms usually develop three to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

The elderly and those with compromised immune systems or other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease. In rare cases, WNV can lead to encephalitis, meningitis or death.

Additional information on WNV can be found on the CDC's website.