Valdosta - It's that time of year again, when mosquitoes start swarming in South Georgia. This year, many of those pests could be carrying a deadly disease. "We have found a high increase of numbers in the mosquitoes that typically carry the EEE virus," said Jennifer Steedley.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as sleeping sickness, has killed several horses and birds in the South Health District over the past three years, and left a 12-year-old Valdosta girl mentally and physically handicapped. Health officials don't want the same thing to happen again. "It's very important now that we be cautious and know that type of mosquito is out there and we need to be mindful of what we're doing," said Steedley.
Protecting your family from the disease starts at home. Make sure that you dump out anything holding standing water at least once a day. "This is a kids pool, you can see dead mosquitoes and if you got a little bit closer you could probably see eggs," said Steedley.
If you have areas of standing water around your home, like a gold fish pond, its important to always make sure the water is constantly running. "You don't want stagnant water because that's what breeds mosquitoes and that's what we're trying to stop people from doing," said Steedley.
And always wear insect repellent when outdoors. The CDC is promoting a new and improved repellent called Picaridin. "It's safe for the whole family, pregnant women and children under the age of two can use it as opposed to DEET," said Steedley.
None of the mosquitoes found have tested positive for E.E.E. but they are the type that usually carries it. Health officials want people to take a proactive approach to the pests before anyone else is struck by the disease.