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      Pet protection for West Nile Virus

      The Southwest Public Health District announced Tuesday that two horses in Miller and Worth counties have contracted a strain of West Nile Virus. With so many Southwest Georgians owning pets of their own, the question remains, can more domestic animals become infected?

      "They get it so infrequently that we normally don't consider that a risk, much of a risk, it's down in the thousands it's a very low risk," said veterinarian, Frank Spelts.

      However that doesn't mean the risk isn't there, and pet owners should still be conscious about where their animals are wandering.

      "Whether they can contract West Nile Virus or not contract West Nile Virus, but I would certainly think, just like with humans, preventing exposure is going to be key," said District Deputy Health Director, Brenda Greene

      But although your pet may not be susceptible to West Nile Virus, you are, and need to make sure that you're protected.

      "Because of our recent rains we're expecting that we may see some more cases, so we want people to be prepared and do things that can hopefully prevent them from contracting the virus," said Greene.

      And the Southwest Georgia region is experiencing one of its most extreme West Nile Virus seasons in history. With four more months remaining in 2012, experts believe that this year will surpass the numbers totaled at the end of 2011, meaning protecting yourself has never been more important.

      "Avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active, and that's late in the afternoon, sometimes early in the morning, but certainly late afternoon, early evening," said Greene.

      Other helpful prevention tips can be found on the district website,