West Nile death prompts public meeting and new warnings - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

West Nile death prompts public meeting and new warnings

October 27, 2003

Albany - Both men who contracted West Nile lived near downtown, just south of Oglethorpe. The 77 year-old man survived, but the 60 year-old victim died earlier this month from the mosquito-borne illness. The proximity of the victims is raising concerns that this area of Albany may especially hold a health threat.

Environmental Control technicians drop mosquito killing tablets in catch basins on Lincoln Avenue. Since news of the latest West Nile death, workers are going yard to yard looking for any place mosquitos are breeding.

"They're looking for hidden buckets in the woods that may be holding water," said Donell Mathis as he oversees two technicians. Environmental Control Director Donell Mathis warns you to rid your yard of standing water in common breeding grounds like flower pots and birdbaths.

"Just a little bit of water in a flower pot could be a breeding ground for the insects. Just dump the water out and turn over the pot." And, Mathis has new warnings about some mosquito havens you may never have thought of.

"Many people overlook areas like clogged gutters. Gutters are a great place for mosquitos to breed, and they're hidden from view," said Mathis. Make sure to keep gutters clean and also look for water in tree holes.

"Tree holes often have stagnant water in them that no one really thinks about cleaning," said Mathis. Alert Environmental Control about large breeding spots like tree holes or large puddles.

Environmental Health officials have sent mosquitoes from downtown neighborhoods to a lab in Atlanta to see how many of the insects are infected with West Nile. "We are waiting to here back from the state," said Environmental Health Director Susan Reyher. "There have been 37 cases of West Nile in Georgia so far this year and four deaths, including the one here in Dougherty County."

Mosquitos usually only fly a half mile from where they are born. So the mosquitos around your house are yours or your neighbors. If your don't keep stagnant water out of the yard, you may be breeding a killer.

Posted at 2:40PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com