The West Nile virus first entered Georgia in 2001. Culex mosquitoes, or southern house mosquitoes, have proven to be the main carrier of the virus in Georgia and the U.S.
The numbers of southern house mosquitoes being caught in East Metro Health District traps are much higher than for the same period in 2006. In fact, the mid-June 2007 catch is equal to the mid-July 2006 numbers.
This does not mean that the mosquito season will be any shorter than normal (typically from April 1 to October 31). Rather, it means that the most dangerous months of July, August and September will have a bigger surplus of southern house mosquitoes for all of us to deal with than does a typical year.
The tan colored native of Georgia has been proven to carry and spread the virus from birds to humans. It bites in early morning and after sundown. The pesky Tiger mosquito bites any time of the day. It has not shown a tendency to carry the West Nile virus, however, because it prefers to bite only mammals and humans rather than birds. The Southern house mosquito will bite both birds and humans.
The East Metro Health District advises residents to take the following precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.
Reduce time spend outdoors when mosquitoes are most active. Wear long pants, long sleeves, shoes and socks when outdoors while mosquitoes are active. Use a mosquito repellent. Insect repellent helps reduce exposure to mosquito bites that may carry West Nile virus or other diseases and allows continued enjoyment of the outdoors with a lower risk of disease.
Properly throw away or destroy old tires. Make sure your home and porch have tight-fitting screens that keep mosquitoes out. Dispose of tin cans, jars, plant pots and any other containers that can hold water. Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
Store wheelbarrows, tubs, buckets, barrels and boats upside down so that water cannot accumulate in them.
Change the water in birdbaths, small wading pools and pet dishes at least once a week. Aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish. Properly chlorinate backyard swimming pools. Cover any pool that is not in use so rainwater and leaves do not accumulate in it. Be sure the cover does not hold pockets of water.