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1 dead from West Nile virus in North Georgia; 20 confirmed cases

Mosquitoes caught for testing await shipment to a lab. (Credit: John Moore / Getty Images)
Mosquitoes caught for testing await shipment to a lab. (Credit: John Moore / Getty Images)

Georgia health officials on Friday confirmed the third West Nile virus death in Georgia this year and cautioned those looking to catch some sun this Labor Day weekend.

“Protecting yourself from mosquito bites, eliminating mosquito breeding grounds, and using larvicides to kill mosquito larva before they can grow into biting adults are the best ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile,” Dr. Unini Odama, health director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District, said in a news release.

The department, which oversees 10 counties, confirmed West Nile cases in Floyd and Catoosa counties, the latter of which had a confirmed death.

There have been nearly 20 cases, including three fatalities, of the West Nile virus in Georgia (two were in DeKalb County) this year, up from the seven cases reported in 2016. There were no deaths last year associated with the virus.

“Georgians can reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes and yards by getting rid of standing water,” said Chris Rustin, director of the department’s environmental health division. “Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that may be infected with West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

Other ways to avoid West Nile include: using insect repellent containing DEET for long-lasting protection; wearing long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn, when mosquitos are most active; and install or repair screens on windows and doors.

Residents are also encouraged to see their healthcare provider with any concerns or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website for more information.

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