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georgia zika

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.

Andre Penner / AP Photo

Georgia Public Health officials say they’re ready for action, should the Zika virus start spreading through local transmissions.

Georgia is currently in peak mosquito season with the end expected in late October.

DPH’s Dr. James O’Neal, speaking after the agency’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday, said that, should the virus start spreading here, the state has teams of people ready to rapidly deploy to areas where cases pop up.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Some Georgia blood banks will begin testing donors for the Zika virus.

It comes as officials in Florida investigate several cases of the virus, which are believed to be the first transmitted by mosquitos on the U.S. mainland.  

Jill Evans, vice president of blood supplier LifeSouth, said they're testing at their three Georgia locations, starting Tuesday, as an extra precaution.

“The blood donors who come to us are healthy,” said Evans, “but they may have Zika virus, because 80 percent of the people who contract Zika are asymptomatic.”

In this Jan. 18, 2016, file photo, a female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquires a blood meal on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute in the Sao Paulo's University in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Andre Penner, File / AP Photo

The Centers for Disease Control will award nearly $60 million to help cities, states and territories in efforts to combat the Zika virus, after Congress adjourned for the summer without acting on a bill that included more than $1 billion to combat the disease. According to the CDC, Georgia will be receiving $1.2 million in funds.

"We can't wait around," said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner. "We've got to do what we can with funding that we have to make sure states are prepared."

zika virus precautions
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

The government has come up with a plan in case mosquitoes start spreading Zika in the U.S.

Health officials aren't expecting big outbreaks like in Latin America and the Caribbean. But they do think some local cases in the U.S. are likely.

Andre Penner / Associated Press

The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed the first sexually transmitted case of the Zika virus in the state.

According to a press release from the DPH, the woman, who had not traveled out of the U.S., had been infected. Her partner, who had traveled to Brazil earlier this year, was among Georgia's confirmed travel-related cases of the virus.

Both she and her partner have now recovered from the virus, the release said.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, without additional emergency funding from Congress, it may have to stop or delay measures to prevent the Zika virus.

Right now the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response is throwing everything it's got at trying to understand Zika and prepare for warmer temperatures favorable to mosquitoes that can carry the virus. 

James Gathany / CDC, Wikimedia Commons

The possibility for more pesticide spraying amid heightened fears of Zika by both metro Atlanta government entities and private citizens has beekeepers worried.

“If [the pesticide] does contaminate the pollens and nectars the bees are going to, they'll take it home, and then it damages more than just the bee it landed on,” said Cindy Hodges a past president of the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association. Anyone spraying their yard with pesticides could harm area bee colonies, she said.

Ricky Romero (cropped, color adjusted) /

Thursday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Dr. Rosemarie Kelly, public health entomologist with the Georgia Department of Public Health, speaking with Denis O'Hayer on February 15, 2016 in the DPH offices in downtown Atlanta.
Nancy Nydam / Georgia Department of Public Health


Chances are, just a few months ago, most of us had not heard of the Zika virus.  

Zika was a relatively mild disease mostly confined to Africa. But then, it started moving, eventually reaching Latin America. And there are signs Zika is linked to microcephaly -- mothers giving birth to infants with abnormally small heads -- though there is still no definite proof that Zika is the cause.  

In this Jan. 27, 2016, file photo, an Aedes aegypti mosquito is photographed through a microscope at the Fiocruz institute in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil.
Felipe Dana, File / Associated Press

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help fight the Zika virus. In an announcement Monday, the White House said the money would be used to expand mosquito control programs, speed development of a vaccine, develop diagnostic tests and improve support for low-income pregnant women.