August 13, 2002
by Ashley Harper
From horses to birds and humans, countless species have been effected by the West Nile Virus this summer. So far, here in Lowndes county there have been no cases of West Nile. Experts say the number of mosquitoes in Valdosta is actually lower than usual.
"We had a real peek in mosquitoes in May, but its really decreased over the past six weeks not showing much sign of coming back," said Dr. Mark Blackmore, Biology professor.
Dr. Blackmore and several VSU students are monitoring the county's mosquito population through a trapping device called the mosquito magnet. Six devices are set up through various areas of Valdosta and Lowndes county to help calculate a mosquito census.
"Carbon dioxide is what attracts mosquitoes to us, and that's what this machine uses to gather the insects," said Russ During, Biology student.
After the mosquitoes are collected and taken back to the lab, they are frozen and sorted by species. The species who have a history of carrying the West Nile Virus then undergo a series of chemical testing.
"We grind them up and test the insects, but we haven't had any positive pools at all," said Blackmore.
Dr. Blackmore says weather has played a crucial role in the decrease in mosquitoes.
Lowndes county residents have also noticed the decrease in area mosquitoes. City officials say the number of complaints last year was almost double the amount received this summer.
"The calls have diminished greatly because apparently, we have less problems in the area," said Pete Pyrzenski, Public Works Director.
There's still a chance Lowndes county could see the West Nile Virus. But, with education from experiments like Dr. Blackmore's, we may be able to avoid the epidemic.
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