West Nile Season is here - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

West Nile Season is here

June 29, 2007

Albany - - As the weather heats up, we're about to enter prime mosquito season. That means a greater threat of West Nile Virus. Last year, West Nile deaths in the United States increased to the highest level since 2003. The only death in Georgia happened right here in Albany. 

At least 177 Americans died from West Nile last year. In Georgia, there were eight cases, three of them in Dougherty County. In one instance, a 76 year old Albany man died. That's why the county is hitting the streets to crack down on mosquitoes.

We prayed for the rain and we got it. Now practice patience for the pests that follow.

"Oh yeah we've gotten some," says Environmental Control Manager Donell Mathis.

With one scoop into a pile of standing water, Mathis easily picks up 15 mosquitoes. In highly infested areas, 200 can be found in one scoop. That's why the county is getting to work.

"Beefing up our program, intense spraying especially those areas where we had west nile virus last year."

You'll see his crews out five nights a week, up from three nights due to the recent rains. After a good rain, Mathis says it takes one to 11 days for mosquitoes to hatch.

"We have past that period so now were experiencing increase in the population of mosquitoes we have here in Dougherty County at this point."

And though you may not have water like this near your home, he says any standing water can be a problem.

"If you have buckets, tires, bird bath, dog water dish, roof gutters that have been clogged up with leaves are potential breeding sites for mosquitos."

If you have that, find the items and pour them out, then turn them upside down so they won't collect water.

Otherwise, you could be breeding pests, and not even know it.

"Some of these probably will be hatching out in the next couple of days if we don't treat this water."

We hear time and time again how to protect yourself. Mathis says that tips about staying inside at dusk and dawn actually works. We also hear we should wear long sleeves when outdoors. If it's too hot for you to do that, then please don't forget your insect repellent. 

So far this year, The CDC has confirmed six human cases of West Nile Virus in Mississippi, Iowa, and South Dakota.  

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