Chatham County Mosquito Control has confirmed that samples of mosquitoes collected in the midtown Savannah area have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). Mosquito control personnel routinely collect and sample mosquitoes in all areas of Chatham County. This is the first positive WNV test in the Chatham County mosquito population this year. No human cases of WNV have been confirmed this year in any Coastal Health District counties, including Chatham.
WNV is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes and can cause mild to serious illness. “Most people who become infected won’t even show symptoms, but about 1 in 5 may develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. “A small number of people may become seriously ill and could die from West Nile virus.”
The Coastal Health District is encouraging all residents to take extra precautions now that WNV is actively circulating in the local mosquito population. “There are simple things we can all do to protect ourselves from mosquito bites and discourage mosquito breeding around our homes and yards,” said Dr. Davis.
One of the most effective ways to keep mosquitoes from your yard is by eliminating standing water, which mosquitoes need for breeding. Residents are urged to “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.
Chatham County Mosquito Control is actively treating all areas of Chatham County for mosquitoes. Residents should expect to see Mosquito Control’s low flying, yellow helicopters on a regular basis throughout the county.
Personal protection is also important, and residents are always encouraged to follow the 5 Ds of mosquito bite prevention:
Dusk/Dawn – Mosquitoes usually bite at dusk and dawn, so avoid or limit outdoor activity at these times.
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 DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water because they are excellent 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.
More information is available at gachd.org/mosquitoes.