S. Alan Harlan
Associate Certified Entomologist/ Technical Director
BACO Exterminating Services
We began to hear the horror stories in the late 1990’s…West Nile Virus is coming, it’s inevitable, it will be here with a vengeance and there’s nothing that we can do to stop it. However, when the reality of WNV arrived in Georgia in 2001, it was not at all what we expected. We watched the news every day to get the latest update from other parts of the country. There was sheer panic in the Northeast as stories out of New York received constant attention. Let’s take a quick look at what we’re really up against.
- Birds are the reservoir, the virus is spread to people by mosquitoes which have bitten infected birds
- West Nile Virus is the most commonly reported arbovirus in Georgia
- About 80% of infected people never develop symptoms
- About 20% develop West Nile Fever, characterized by fever, headache, muscle tightness, and an occasional rash
- Less than 1% develop West Nile Neurologic Disease, which can manifest as meningitis or encephalitis. 3-15% of these less than 1% cases are fatal.
- 22 cases of WNV were reported in 2011 (14 probable, 8 confirmed)
- 3 fatalities from WNND or WNF reported. The average age was 60
- Mosquito surveillance was conducted in 18 Georgia counties. Seven counties (including Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton) tested positive for WNV
- Most common species were the Southern House Mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus) and the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus)
- The amount of cases reported in 2011 (22) was three times higher than normal. Most likely attributable to early spring-like temperatures. Most of these cases were in coastal Chatham county, which had not reported WNV since 2007
- Testing for WNV can be administered by commercial laboratories
Both mosquito species that most commonly harbor WNV are container breeders. That means that managing the source of standing water is very effective in reducing mosquito breeding sites, thus the opportunity for WNV to manifest. This can best be accomplished by
- Not allowing water to accumulate in low areas of landscape or artificial containers
- Keep grass and shrubs trimmed to reduce shaded areas where mosquitoes rest
- Keep gutters clear of debris
- Empty all non-functioning water features
- Use insect repellent
BACO Exterminating can also assist in a mosquito management program to reduce mosquito populations where they rest or hide. Larviciding is also very effective in areas where mosquitoes may potentially lay eggs. Contact your friends at BACO for more information on mosquito management at (877) 905-BACO or visit our web-site at http://www.bacoexterminating.com/ for additional information.
Reference: June/July 2012 Georgia Epidemiology Report. Mosquito-Borne Viruses in Georgia, 2011