Kids turn into mosquito fighters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Kids turn into mosquito fighters

October 25, 2005

Albany - The cold weather is a good sign that mosquitoes are gone for a while. Dougherty County Environmental Control stopped spraying for the season, but they are using the winter months to fight the pests in another way.

A look through the microscope might turn these fourth graders into mosquito killers. Environmental Control Director Donell Mathis and his staff are going school to school teaching kids about mosquito control.

"The key to mosquito control is education," said Donell Mathis. That education includes reminding kids that mosquitoes breed in standing water and that they can help keep their neighborhood free of the pest by pouring out water in things such as flower pots and bird baths.

"They can attract a lot of water and the mosquitoes can stay. And you don't want that," International Studies Magnet school student Briana Jackson.

The kids learned about different mosquito species, how they breed and grow.

"I learned that there are 3,000 types of mosquitoes," said fourth grader Natalee Rangel.

"Knowing what the mosquito larva look like will make them that much better at identifying mosquito larva and pouring out standing water," stressed Mathis.

Mathis explained how the pest can spread disease, mainly West Nile in humans and heartworm in dogs and how to spot the symptoms of both illnesses.

"If we do that we can save our pets as well as keep our parents and grandparents," said Mathis.

Mathis just hopes next spring when the mosquitos start laying eggs again, these kids will remember this lesson and help control the blood-sucking nuisance.

Environmental Control hopes to visit all of Dougherty County's public and private elementary schools in the next year.

A Columbus man is Georgia's most recent case of West Nile. He's the first known fatal case of the year. He's the 17th human case of the West Nile in Georgia this year. Last year, there were 25 reported human cases.

Nationwide, there have been 2,316 cases with 66 people dying from the disease. Most of those cases came between the end of August to the beginning of October.

Infected mosquitoes were found in Dougherty and Lowndes Counties this year.