Health officials in Georgia have confirmed the diagnosis of the state's first human case of West Nile virus, in a patient in Atlanta who has since recovered.

The Georgia Department of Public Health is urging state residents  to protect themselves against mosquitoes, as most cases of WNV are the result of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

"Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may be infected with West Nile virus," explained department entomologist Rosmarie Kelly. "In the heat of summer, it can take less than 10 days to go from egg to adult mosquito."

Symptoms of an infection from the West Nile virus can include headache, neck pain, fever, joint or muscle aches, inflamed lymph nodes and a rash, health officials said.

Symptoms generally begin from 3 to 15 days after a bite from an infected mosquito, they said.

Survival rates are high, and in fact most people infected with the virus do not develop any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but around one in five will display some or all of the usual signs.

Complications from the disease can threaten the elderly and people with compromised immune systems or other underlying medical conditions, it says.

A very small percentage, less than one percent, of people who are infected may develop serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, an inflammation of the brain or its surrounding tissues, the CDC added.

While there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments available, fevers can be reduced and some symptoms can be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications.

Generally, the highest numbers of West Nile infections happen in August and September, but the disease is not that common, says Georgia Department of Public Health epidemiologist Amanda Feldpausch.

"Usually we only have about 10 to 15 cases a year and usually only one or two deaths," she says.

She stresses the importance of protecting yourself from mosquitoes if playing or working outdoors.

"All mosquitoes don't necessarily carry West Nile disease, but it is important to protect yourself because they do carry other diseases," she says.

Avoiding or limiting activity outdoors is particularly important during the hours of dawn and dusk, because those are the times mosquitoes are most active, the health department says.

West Nile virus was first discovered and identified in Uganda in Africa in 1937, and the first diagnosed case in the U.S. was in New York in 1999.

Every state, with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii, has had confirmed cases.

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