State health officials are confirming three West Nile deaths in south Georgia. This year is on track to be one of the deadliest since the disease arrived in Georgia in 2001.
The recent deaths occurred in Dougherty and Early counties. In all, 12 cases of West Nile are confirmed in the southern part of the state. The peak season for the virus lasts now through the middle of September.
Elmer Gray is a public health entomologist with The University of Georgia’s cooperative extension service. He says the Southern House mosquito, that carries West Nile, lives in storm drains and likes it hot and dry.
“The mosquitoes that transmit the West Nile virus are active in the evenings, at dawn and at dusk, and you seldom see them. The ones that you’re getting bitten by during the daytime are primarily nuisance mosquitoes.”
Gray says heavy rains could actually help by flushing out storm drains where the insects live. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control 41 people have died of West Nile so far this year in the U.S.