Chatham County Mosquito Control has confirmed that samples of mosquitoes collected across Chatham County have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). Mosquito Control confirmed last week that mosquito samples in Pooler tested positive for WNV. Once WNV activity is detected in mosquitoes it is an indication that the virus is actively circulating in local mosquito populations – regardless of the specific location of positive mosquito pools. The latest samples collected around the county confirm that fact. Recent weather patterns have not allowed Mosquito Control to conduct control operations; therefore, weekend missions will be scheduled. Residents should expect to see Mosquito Control’s low flying, yellow helicopters on a regular basis throughout the county this weekend between the hours of 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
No human cases of WNV have been confirmed in any Coastal Health District counties, including Chatham. About 80% of the people who get WNV never even know it because they don’t develop symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.
WNV is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes and can cause mild to serious illness. Mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus are more likely to bite during the evening, night, and early morning. The Chatham County Health Department and Chatham County Mosquito Control urge residents to take appropriate precautions now and throughout the summer to minimize mosquitoes around their property.
One of the most effective ways of preventing mosquito breeding and thus the spread of mosquito-borne viruses is controlling the mosquito population by getting rid of standing water around the home and in the yard. Residents are urged to clean up around their homes, yards, and communities and get rid of unnecessary items that can hold water and turn into mosquito breeding grounds. One way to do this is “Tip ‘n Toss.” After every rainfall, tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, wading pools, buckets, and anything else that may be holding water. If it holds water and you don’t need it (old tires, bottles, cans), toss it out. It’s also a good idea to change water frequently in outdoor pet dishes, change bird bath water at least twice a week and avoid using saucers under outdoor potted plants.
For containers without lids or that are too big to Tip ‘n Toss (garden pools, etc.), use larvicides such as Mosquito Dunks© or Mosquito Torpedoes© and follow the label instructions. These larvicides will not hurt birds or animals. In addition, clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves, and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes.
Homeowners associations and neighborhoods, along with city and county governments, are encouraged to sponsor community cleanup days.
Residents are always encouraged to follow the 5Ds of mosquito bite prevention:
- Dusk/Dawn – Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
- Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
- DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
- Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water – buckets, barrels, flower pots, tarps – because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
- Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.