GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Gwinnett County has reported metro Atlanta's first death from West Nile virus this year.
The Gwinnett Board of Health announced two cases of West Nile over the last month. A 53-year old victim recovered, but a 78-year old died from the illness. The Board of Health would not release their names.
"It's just heartbreaking because it's something you kind of think doesn't have to happen," said Gwinnett County resident Michelle Quigley.
Channel 2 Action News obtained the latest West Nile numbers from the State Health Department. So far, there have been 44 confirmed cases in 2012, twice the number of cases in 2011. The state has recorded four West Nile deaths so far this year, one more than in 2011.
Cobb and DeKalb counties lead metro Atlanta with five reported West Nile cases. Gwinnett, Fulton and Douglas counties are next with two cases each. Forsyth and Clayton counties each have one reported case. Doughtery County in southwest Georgia leads all areas with eight reported cases and two of the state's four deaths.
West Nile is carried by mosquitoes and can be passed on to humans through mosquito bites. Most mosquitoes do not carry the illness, and even people bitten by ones that do rarely develop any symptoms. Symptoms of West Nile include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches.
Many Gwinnett residents complain this is the worst year for mosquitoes they can remember.
"Sometimes, me and my brother come play outside, and sometimes we get bitten. It worries me that we could come outside and play and get bit by that mosquito," said Jennifer Paz.