MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Mosquito-borne virus causes major concern
s news reports of the West Nile virus continue to increase, base personnel are reminded to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites while outdoors.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease with no vaccine or specific treatment.
Medical conditions for those who contract the West Nile virus range from mild to severe. Reports indicate 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms.
Up to 20 percent of people may experience fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a rash.
According to an Aug. 22, Southwest Public Health District news release, the number of West Nile virus cases in Southwest Health District reached 12 and included three fatalities. So far, seven cases have been confirmed in Dougherty County, two in Lee County and one each in Early, Mitchell and Worth counties.
“At this time, there are no known cases of West Nile virus at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany,” Brian Wallace, environmental branch head, Installation and Environment Division, said, “but with all of the rain this area has had lately, it’s important for base personnel to routinely check areas around their houses and work areas for any kind of standing water because that’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes.”
Wallace said items that contain standing water can sometimes be overlooked, such as flower pots, buckets, barrels and even children’s wading pools.
He highly recommended getting rid of these types of mosquito-breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels.
In addition, it is recommended to change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths frequently. Drain water from tire swings and keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.
“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” John Sorenson, occupational and community health manager, Naval Branch Health Clinic, MCLB Albany, added. “It should be pointed out that mosquito bites can pose additional health concerns such as malaria, dog heartworm, yellow fever, Eastern equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis.”
Individuals can help protect themselves from mosquito bites by taking the following precautions:
* When outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient.
* Wear long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are most active - at dawn and dusk.
* Eliminate/drain standing water.
* Install or repair window and door screens.
In addition to these precautions, base contractors will be spraying areas around housing to help combat the spread of West Nile at the installation.
“Even though spraying is conducted during early morning hours, parents should ensure their children don’t follow the fog from spray trucks on their bikes like I did when I was a child,” Sorenson said with a light chuckle. “The type of spray used when treating for mosquitoes is an ultra-low volume spray that has no residual and breaks down quickly; however, it’s always a good idea to keep young children and animals away from spray trucks.”
Wallace provides oversight to base pest control personnel and contractors to ensure they use approved pesticides and methods to treat areas of concern.
Wallace explained that each year during the peak season for mosquitoes the base conducts surveillance, sets traps, treats standing water and inspects areas when they receive complaints of high mosquito activity. Spraying is the last method used.
“The chemicals in the spray are not toxic to people or animals,” Wallace said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 150 people infected with the West Nile virus will develop severe illness.
The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.