People learn about West Nile at county meeting - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

People learn about West Nile at county meeting

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August 31, 2006

Albany - - West Nile Virus is a fact of life in Georgia. That was the message at a meeting tonight in Albany to teach people how to protect themselves from the virus. Already... two cases have appeared in Albany and one man died.

Just as soon as the sun goes down, mosquitoes are ready to attack. Many people in Doughterty county are ready to fight back. Glenna Hatfield says her husband contracted the virus a couple of years ago when they lived in Lee County.

"He started having chills and severe headache. When asked on a scale 1 to 10 how bad was his headache, he said a 50."

Health leaders say only 1 out of every 150 people bitten by an infected mosquito will deal with symptoms that severe.

"Within 2 days he lost a lot of equilibrium, coordination, couldn't feed himself or drink or walk unassisted and the headache continued to get worse."

State Entomologist Dr. Rosmarie Kelly spoke to the group about how to avoid getting in this situation. She says the state monitors mosquitoe traffic by setting traps in the county once a month.

In 2003, they found 2,038 mosquitoes - but no signs of a virus. In 2004, 2,107 - again no virus. In 2005, 4,270 mosquitos...10 of them tested positive for West Nile. This year, just 461 have been found so far....2 of them also positive.

Otis Garner is concerned because he sees a lot of standing water in his neighborhood.

"Across the street there's 6, 8, or 10 vacant houses that nobody's stayed in the last 5, 6, 7 years...Its really a breeding ground for mosquitoes, roaches, rats, anything of that neighborhood."

Donnell Mathis with the county's mosquito control program says his office has started spraying more heavily...especially in areas where officials found the 2 positive mosquitoes.

For now, these folks learned to do their part by removing standing water from their homes, wearing insect repellent, and staying inside at dusk and dawn.

Donnell Mathis plans to talk with city leaders about how to handle overgrown lots and alleys where there's a lot of trash. Health Director Jacqueline Grant asked for volunteers to help clean up those areas until the city comes up with a plan.

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