West Nile Virus is back - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

West Nile Virus is back

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – It's that season again, time to get outside. Time to enjoy grilling out and playing in the park. Of course, summer means that it's the rainy season as well. At Public Works offices area-wide, they know the drill.

According to Donell Mathis of Dougherty County Public Works: "it's the season we should be on schedule."

On schedule means that you'll be seeing a lot more of the mosquito sprayer trucks.

"We have four trucks in operation that we'll be spraying five nights a week," said Mathis.

After a long slumber, local rain gauges got a workout on Monday and Tuesday with as much as 6" of rain falling in some parts of South Georgia. The standing water that was left behind is one of the best nurseries imaginable for mosquitoes.

And mosquitoes carry a lot of diseases, among them the West Nile Virus.

"Severe symptoms can cause encephalitis, which is swelling on the brain. And that can lead to confusion, coma and possibly death," said Jacqueline Jenkins, an Epidemiologist with Southwest District Public Health.

There has already been one case of West Nile Virus in Georgia and while it was in Clayton County, local public health officials are concerned as well. Part of the reason is the timing of that first case.

"About two months earlier than we usually see West Nile cases in our state," said Jenkins.

With the possibility of an active season, standing water in the public areas will be sprayed regularly. But mosquitoes don't respect property lines. And they don't need much room to breed.

"Mosquitoes can hatch out in items such as, as small as a bottle cap," said Mathis.

With that in mind, you can take some simple steps to reduce the mosquito population on your property, such as emptying or treating anything that can hold water, things like flowerpots and birdbaths. And there is one foolproof way to minimize the chances of you becoming dinner while you're out grilling dinner.

Jenkins said, "avoid being outside between dusk and dawn, those are the peak mosquito biting times."

And if you're going to be outside, you should spray on something other than cologne.

"Wear repellant that has DEET in it," said Jenkins.

With a little effort you can help to slap down the mosquitoes, and your chances of catching the West Nile Virus this summer.

Mathis says that Dougherty County residents who have a problem with mosquitoes can call them out and they can help you take care of the problem.

The good news about West Nile virus is that there were no cases in Southwest Georgia last year.


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