From now until the first freeze, Andrea Frazier and Leslie Lanier will set up stinky fermented hay and water bait for the Culex mosquito, which is the most common carrier of West Nile Virus.
Leslie Lanier (left) and Andrea Frazier,
specialists for the Georgia Public Health Department, carry mosquito traps to a retention pond on Washington Road. So far, the mosquito problem hasn't been as bad this year
as it was last summer.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The two environmental health specialists with the Columbia County Health Department set the traps before dusk and collect mosquitoes to be tested by the University of Georgia for the mosquito-carried virus.
None of the very few collected so far have been positive. The Center for Disease Control has no reported human cases this year in Georgia - only two infected birds and a mosquito pool in Gwinnett, Ware and Henry counties - compared to 55 infections last year when four people developed the fatal illness.
Compared to last year's heavy spring rains and the swarms of mosquitoes that bred in resulting standing water, this summer's mosquito problem has been manageable, officials said.
"We have not received nearly the number of complaints as we did last year, but there have been some," Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said. "I'm sure there are mosquitoes out there, some problems. Last year was severe. This year has been more moderate and in isolated pockets, certain areas - wooded areas and wet areas."
Kevin Lear, Columbia County Roads and Bridges director, said that $5,000 was added to the division's budget to purchase extra larvicide tablets for the severe problem. But this summer, Lear said all his department does is regular maintenance of retention ponds and other county properties.
Tucker attributes education about West Nile Virus and mosquito protection techniques for the decreased complaints.
Lanier said that rains in the early summer kept washing away mosquito breeding sites, but since the rain stopped, complaints to the health department have increased some in concentrated areas.
Most mosquito species don't fly far and all need water to breed. Almost anything that will hold water for one week can produce the pests.
Frazier said most mosquitoes problems are residential ones that can be traced to backyards, which are the No. 1 breeding ground for the summer pests.
Frazier said homeowners need to practice the toss or tip method. Throw away or tip over any container that can hold water including flower pots, wheel barrows, buckets and tin cans.
The best way to control mosquitoes is to prevent them from breeding or eliminate them from breeding before they become adults by using larvicide, which can be purchased at any home center, Lanier said.
Though the problem has lessened since last summer, people outdoors still need to be careful and avoid bites by wearing long pants and sleeves if weather permits and using a repellent containing DEET.
Since mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, Frazier recommends avoiding being outside at those times.
For more information, visit http://health.state.ga.us.
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