MOULTRIE — A farmworker who had been in the country less than a week died from an apparent heat stroke after he collapsed on Thursday.
Miguel Angel Guzman Chavez fell ill at about 4 p.m. Thursday while picking tomatoes, Colquitt County Coroner Verlyn Brock said.
The 24-year-old was taken to Colquitt Regional Medical Center, where he later died.
Chavez was pronounced dead at 5:41 p.m., Brock said.
“He had gone into heat exhaustion and went into a heat stroke, (which) caused him to go into cardiac arrest.”
Chavez arrived in Georgia from Mexico June 16.
At the time Chavez got sick the temperature was 95 with a heat index of 103 or 104 degrees, Brock said.
“He was working with a harvesting company picking tomatoes,” he said. “They had worked from 8 a.m. until noon. After lunch there were breaking every 30 minutes. They tried to resuscitate him.”
Brock said he has spoken with state medical examiners, who are looking at the reports of the case. No autopsy will be performed.
“I’m waiting for them to give me a cause and manner” of death,” he said. “It looks like heat stroke.
“He had been in the state since Saturday of last week. He came looking for a better way of life.”
The last heat-related death of a farmworker that Brock recalls happened in 2009.
High temperatures and humidity have brought some brutal heat in recent days, and anyone spending time outdoors should use caution and look out for the signs of heat illness for themselves and others.
“High temperatures, combined with high humidity can create a health hazard,” said Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Charles Ruis. “Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. But when humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly. When that happens, the person’s body temperature rises rapidly.”
Older adults, the very young, as well as those with mental illness and chronic disease “are at the highest risk of heat-related illness and death,” he said. “However, even young and healthy individuals can fall victim to heat-related illness if they are involved in strenuous physical activity during hot weather.”
Heat stroke occurs when the body become unable to cool itself, and is a life-threatening medical emergency.
Symptoms include a high body temperature of more than 103 degrees (orally); red, hot and dry skin with no sweating; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion and unconsciousness.
High temperatures in the Moultrie area are expected to be in the 90s all week -- 93 degrees on Tuesday -- and a number of storms are expected, which could boost humidity.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend increasing fluid intake in hot weather, regardless of activity level and is especially important for those older than 65. The agency also recommends replacing salt and minerals lost by sweating by drinking fruit juices and sports beverages, wearing lightweight clothing that is light-colored and loose-fitting. A wide-brimmed hat will provide shade and keep the head cool.
Those spending time outdoors should pace themselves, and if exertion leads to a pounding heart or shortness of breath all activity should be stopped and the person should seek shade or a cool area indoors. Planning to do outdoor activities during the cooler part of the day also is a good way to avoid excessive heat.