July 20, 2005
Press Release from the South Health District
Valdosta, GA- New mosquito groups have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in North and South Lowndes County. In addition a horse tested positive for EEE in North Lowndes County.
County commissioners were notified and spraying around those areas began immediately. Larvacide tablets have also been made available to citizens of Lowndes County that have standing water that cannot be drained.
These groups follow findings of mosquitoes with EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV) within the city limits of Valdosta in early June. Mosquito surveillance began in 2001 when WNV entered Georgia. The program in Valdosta and Lowndes County is the only remaining program of its type in the region. The surveillance program provides data on vector and virus activity to local, state and national health agencies.
There are several permanent sampling locations in Valdosta and Lowndes County, with additional collections taken from locations where there is suspicion of virus activity. Mosquitoes collected from the sites are sorted and sent to the state lab for testing.
Mosquito surveillance is the first indication that a mosquito borne illness is in the area. In addition to the mosquito surveillance and collection, we also are actively involved in dead bird surveillance, testing them for EEE and WNV as well.
The South Health District works in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to monitor symptomatic animals and with local hospitals to do human surveillance. Throughout Georgia, Florida and Alabama, there has been an increase in EEE activity this year.
Not only is there an increase in the numbers of mosquitoes that carry this disease, there is also an increase in infected horses and humans in both Florida and Alabama. There have been no confirmed human cases of EEE in Georgia. There was one confirmed case of WNV in a 34 year old male from Paulding County.
Health officials urge citizens to take the following simple steps to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to protect against mosquito bites:
- It is extremely important to eliminate mosquito breeding areas around your house. Dispose of tin can, old tires, bottle, jars, buckets, drums, ceramic pots and other containers or make sure that they contain no standing water. Screen rain barrels and openings to water tanks. Empty and clean your pets watering pan daily.
- Make sure that you use insect repellent containing DEET (please read and follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully and do not use on infants or pregnant women).
- The CDC has recently begun recommending repellents that contain the chemical Pircaridin. This chemical is safe for everyone and has been proven to be effective in repelling mosquitoes. According to CDC, currently in the United States there is only one brand of insect repellent to feature Picaridin, which is Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent. For more information on Picaridin visit www.picaridin.com .
- Use larvicides where standing water cannot be removed or fill holes. Wear long pants, long sleeved shirts and socks when you are outdoors during times that mosquitoes are most active though it is best to try and avoid outdoor activities during these times.
- Check to see that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens that are in good repair. Clean out clogged gutters and/or slope to downspouts. Repair leaky pipes and faucets.
- Drain improperly installed and sagging swimming pool covers. Change the water in birdbaths at least twice weekly. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor spas, saunas and hot tubs; if they are not in use empty and keep them covered. Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito eating fish.
- Eliminate weeds, tall grass and other mosquito breeding places.
- Remind neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their property.
- If there are areas of standing water on your property that cannot be drained, larvacide tablets are available at the Lowndes County Fire Department on Madison Highway.
It is still early in the mosquito-breeding season so it is very important that you teach and practice mosquito safety.
Help keep your property and family safe during the spring and summer months. "Now that we have identified these mosquito borne illnesses in South Lowndes, North Lowndes and within the city limits of Valdosta, I hope that our citizens see the urgency of personal protection," said Lynne Feldman, MD, MPH, District Health Director.
If you have any questions about mosquito safety, please call the South Health District at 229-333-5290 or toll free at 866-801-5360.