Mosquito traps looking for west nile virus carriers
March 30, 2004
Albany-- West Nile Virus killed four people in Georgia last year, including one man in Albany. Now state public health workers are testing mosquitoes, to see if West Nile could kill again in 2004.
Rosmarie Kelly is one of Georgia's mosquito hunters. Kelly set out mosquito traps in six areas in downtown Albany, looking for culex quinquefasciatus, the breed of mosquito most often carrying the west nile virus.Kelly said "They'll get put into a little vial, and sent to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at U.G.A. to be tested for the virus."
A PhD, Kelly is a medical entomologist for Public Health. With a Global Positioning System, she is setting out traps around the area where a man contracted west nile virus last year. She will see if the virus carrying mosquitoes are back in the area. Kelly said "This mosquito that we are looking for, the quinks, they do not fly more than a half mile."
Kelly sets out two types of traps at each site. A light trap, that uses dry ice to attract the mosquitoes. And a gravid trap, which uses a slimy, smelly water mixture as bait. They are trying to see how many mosquitoes have the potential to carry the deadly disease.
Kelly said "We've already seen a positive bird in Ware County. We're getting some mosquitoes early on. The potential is there. We're certainly looking to have west nile again this year. How bad it's going to be is hard to say."
If west nile is detected in the mosquitoes trapped, more effort will be made to spray the area, and to get people who live there to clean up potential breeding spots. Kelly said "Make sure they don't have things around holding water, and to wear repellent when they are outside."
Kelly will check her mosquito traps tomorrow, and then test them. Trying to keep west nile virus from being a killer in Georgia again.
There were 55 people in Georgia last year who were treated for west nile virus, plus five people who tested positive for the virus but never suffered any symptoms of the disease.