Albany man is Georgia's first West Nile virus death this year

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ALBANY, Ga.(AP) - An Albany man has become the year's first
confirmed casualty of West Nile virus in Georgia.

Health officials say the 76-year-old man died last week of complications from the mosquito-borne disease. It often causes no symptoms, but can trigger serious illness, including brain and spinal cord inflammation, in about one percent of the population.

Officials did not release the man's name.

They say he arrived at a hospital emergency room last week with
high fever and body aches.

The director of the Southwest Health District Doctor Jacqueline Grant says she learned of the death on Friday and the state epidemiologist confirmed the link to West Nile yesterday.

Grant says the victim lived within three to four miles of a middle-aged woman who became the state's first confirmed West Nile case of the year. Officials say that woman's illness was announced two weeks ago, and she remains hospitalized in fair condition.

Georgia traditionally sees its highest number of West Nile cases in the fall.

Officials have stepped up insect-control measures and launched a public awareness campaign with the two cases in Albany already and
virus-carrying mosquitoes discovered in a central-Albany neighborhood where there were two cases in 2003.

Health officials do NOT believe the neighborhood's mosquitoes infected the woman who was sickened and the man who died since they lived miles away from them.

Albany had no confirmed cases last year, but Georgia had 20, including two that were fatal.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)