Nearly forgotten after the terrorist attacks and the anthrax scares, the West Nile virus has shown up in four more cases in Georgia, including one in Richmond County, state health officials said.
The mosquito-borne virus showed up in a 73-year-old man in Richmond County who was hospitalized for encephalitis in September, the state Division of Public Health said. It was also detected in a 61-year-old man in Macon County hospitalized in September and a 70-year-old man from Wayne County hospitalized in mid-October. A 68-year-old man from Pierce County is still hospitalized with encephalitis, a sometimes fatal swelling of the brain caused by infection from the virus. All four men, however, are said to be recovering from the virus. The state released no other details about the cases. The delay in getting the test results was blamed on the spate of recent anthrax testing.
Only about one in 140 people bitten by an infected mosquito will develop symptoms, and those are usually mild and flu-like, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Between three percent and 15 percent of the serious cases are fatal, although of the 48 human cases reported previously this year, only five have died, including a 71-year-old Atlanta woman who died in August, the CDC said.