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Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 7:22am

West Nile In Chatham, First Since 2006

The suspect case of West Nile virus in a Chatham County resident has been confirmed by a laboratory.

A few weeks ago Chatham County health officials received preliminary test results but were waiting on follow-up testing which is required to confirm diagnosis.

That testing has now been completed.

The confirmation comes as the county is recording one of its worst years ever for virus-carrying mosquitoes.

County officials have said, the problem stems from earlier bouts of dry weather and the virus' naturally-recurring cycle.

Coastal Health District officials urge residents to take appropriate precautions now and throughout the summer to minimize mosquitoes around their property and to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Health officials say, there a several easy things you can do to reduce mosquito breeding including removing water-holding containers, changing water frequently in pet dishes, changing bird bath water at least twice a week, and avoiding using saucers under outdoor potted plants.

In addition, health officials encourage residents to follow the five “Ds” of prevention:

● Dusk - Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus usually bite at dusk and dawn.

● Dawn - Avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn if possible. If you must be outside, be sure to protect yourself from bites.

● Dress - Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.

● DEET - Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.

● Drain - Empty any containers holding standing water because they can be excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.

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