Weather and bird population set up perfect storm for West Nile

In a file photo from 2012, Donell Mathis checks a small pond for mosquito larvae. / File

With The Southwest Georgia Health District 8 responsible for a third of the West Nile Virus cases in Georgia alone, the area is one of the worst breeding grounds for carriers of the virus. While many know the virus is carried in mosquitoes, they get it from newborn wild birds.

"You get these new birds that have no immunity. They get bitten by an infected mosquito and then they start to have a high viral count," said District Health Director, Jacqueline Grant.

As they get older, the birds grow an immunity to the virus and statistics show a cyclical spike in cases every four years - mimicking their life span. Once a bird is infected, all you need is one mosquito to bite it and carry the virus over to humans and our area is home to many of the blood-sucking insects.

"One of the reasons we are a high carrier for mosquitoes with West Nile is because of the fact that we've had a mild winter, we've had a dry summer, and then we came about with the rain," said Dougherty County Public Works Manager, Donell Mathis.

Public Works also says rural areas like us have lots of open land with standing water, creating the perfect storm. With location and weather being things out of our control, the mosquitoes aren't going anywhere - but Public Works says not to worry.

The Department is given $82,000 by the county for environmental control with more than half of that allocated towards pesticides - giving us a chance in the fight against mosquitoes carrying the virus.

"We're allocated $49,000 a year, which is in the past years historically it's been adequate, I think it will be adequate for this year based on the fact that we still have reserves from last year and we'll be ordering later on in the year to carry us into the next year's cycle," said DCPW Director, Larry Cook.

Public works has increased their nightly spraying from two to four trucks and says they have upped their fleet to keep the public as safe as possible.

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