West Nile Virus reported in Georgia

Several cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Georgia so far this year, leading experts to worry that the virus has appeared earlier than usual.

The state’s first case, reports, was confirmed two months ago in Clayton County by the state’s Department of Community Health/Division of Public Health Acute Disease Epidemiology Section, according to the report. The most recent case, which was reported to health officials last week, is the second of the year in the state.

Southwest Public Health District Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant told the that a 53-year-old Dougherty County man who was recently hospitalized with the disease is now home and recuperating.

District Epidemiologist Jacqueline Jenkins told that 2010 West Nile Virus season has come around two months earlier than expected. The peak of the season usually occurs in August, she said.

“We're in mosquito season,” Jenkins said. “This is the time of year we would expect to see it.”

The state’s only West Nile Virus fatality occurred in 2006. Georgia reported four cases last year. Of the 722 human cases confirmed nationwide last year, 33 fatalities resulted in death.

Grant told that approximately 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms. Up to 20 percent, she said, experience fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a rash.

“Those at risk of experiencing complications and severe illness from West Nile infection include older adults, people who have received an organ transplant, young children and people with a compromised immune system,” Grant told the

Health officials recommend avoiding outdoor activity at dawn and dusk, covering exposed skin when outside and using insect repellent as ways to avoid infection.