Three South Georgians Killed By West Nile Virus

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- Valdosta, Ga. - Aug. 24, 2012 -

This year is the deadliest one ever for the West Nile Virus.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, almost 50 people have died nationwide and we are just now starting the peak West Nile Season. Three of those deaths were in South Georgia.

"They all were in the Albany area. Two were actually in Dougherty County and one was in Early County," said Courtney Sheeley, spokeswoman for Georgia's South Health District.

Every Georgia death has come just miles apart. Health officials say all three people who died were older adults. Why is this year so bad?

"Some have contributed it to the mild winter season that we have had and then also we have had a lot of rain this summer. So people are thinking this mosquito activity is up due to that," Sheeley said.

The West Nile Virus can lead to brain or spinal cord swelling and even death. But only 20% of people who are bitten experience any symptoms at all. It is just the unlucky 2% who show severe symptoms which can be life threatening.

Most cities are continuing their spray programs. But citizens can protect themselves by removing standing water from their property, avoiding outdoor activity at dusk and dawn and using insect repellent with Deet.