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West Nile Virus Detected in 23 States


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about half the country is reporting West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes so far this year. Georgia is not included on that list of 23 states, but experts say the virus is still a concern. Elmer Gray is with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service.

“Here in the upstate we had a very active year of the West Nile Virus last year,” according to Gray. “We had 64 cases and actually seven deaths, which is I very unfortunate. Many people are exposed to the West Nile Virus and don’t even know it, so there was a lot of disease transmission, a lot of virus out there last year. We wouldn’t expect it to be as bad this year, typically cycles up and down, but that’s certainly something to be aware of.”

According to the CDC. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV, but most people infected do not have symptoms. The organization reports about 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 of those infected develop a serious, sometimes fatal illness.

“Anytime you’ve been out, and you feel bad if you’re disoriented, high fever feeling bad in the summer and you’ve out in areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes, that’s something to make your doctors aware of.”  

The peak West Nile transmission period in Athens begins around August 15 and runs through the middle of September.

The CDC states you can reduce your risk of WNV by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.

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