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Georgia Gets Ready For Unpredictable Mosquito Season

May 18, 2017
2006 photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host.
James Gathany / AP/CDC

Fulton County has already started spraying for mosquitoes, but it can be hard to predict how bad the bugs will be.

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Fulton County started its mosquito control program in 2001, when Georgia saw its first case of West Nile virus. Kathleen Toomey, the county's health director, said Fulton has continued the program because of other mosquito-borne diseases, like Zika.

Emory University drug development groups are working to find a treatment for those infected by the Zika virus.
Ricardo Mazalan / Associated Press

The Georgia Department of Public Health is increasing efforts to track the mosquito species known to carry the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects and other neurological disorders.

Researchers say Zika can be carried by two species of mosquitoes. There's the Asian Tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, which is more common in Georgia.

The primary carrier, though, is the Aedes aegypti, and its prevalence here isn't as well documented, DPH’s Director of Environmental Health Dr. Chris Rustin said.

Andre Penner / Associated Press

With warmer weather finally reaching the southern United States, conditions are getting friendlier for mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus. A new report modeling the seasonal abundance of virus-carrying mosquitoes in American cities rates Atlanta at moderate risk beginning around June.

Summertime weather combined with the number of people traveling from Zika-affected places could mean there's an increased chance of more cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. 

The mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus are among the hardest species to fight because they live and breed in tub drains, dog bowls, buckets, flower pots and other places inside the houses and yards of the people they bite.

Bug experts and mosquito control officers from across the U.S. are attending the American Mosquito Control Association's annual conference in Savannah, which started Monday. They say Zika-carrying mosquitoes are tough to reach with sprays because they breed so close to homes.

An Asian Tiger Mosquito biting a human
frankieleon / flickr.com/armydre2008

Georgia health officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus this year. The victim is from the Atlanta area and has already recovered from the illness, according to the State Department of Public Health.

But the highest number of West Nile infections occur in August and September and health experts, like epidemiologist Amanda Feldpausch, think it’s a good time to remind people how to avoid contracting the illness.

Georgia Could See A Heavy Mosquito Season

May 20, 2015
AFPMB / flickr.com/afpmb

Despite a wet start to the spring, so far the number of mosquitoes is typical for this time of year, says University of Georgia Extension entomologist Elmer Gray. But he says it could get worse.

“It has been wet up to this point, and now it’s begun to dry out,” Gray says.

But Gray says seasonal forecasts call for wet weather.

Atlantans Swat The Most Mosquitoes, Says Orkin

May 18, 2015
2006 photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host.
James Gathany / AP/CDC

Atlanta has been ranked as the No. 1 city for mosquitoes for the second year in a row, according to the pest control company Orkin.

In 2014, the company received the most mosquito-related service calls from Atlanta customers topping Chicago at No. 2 and Washington at No. 3.

As summer approaches, mosquito-swatting season will reach its peak in June, July and August and continue until about October for the Southeast, according to the press release.