JONESBORO — Clayton County is preparing to launch a $14,328 effort to fight mosquitos and the diseases they carry.
The Clayton County of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the spending of county funds to spray mosquito repellent across the county this fall. The decision comes as cases of West Nile Virus are on the rise across the country. Nationwide, there have been 1,993 reported cases of people who have contracted West Nile Virus. Last year, only 712 people contracted the virus.
So far, 22 Georgians have contracted the virus this year, and three people have died as a result. With four months left in the year, the state has already matched its final total from 2011 for the number of West Nile cases and deaths.
Mosquitos get a lot of attention during West Nile season each year because they are a key transmitter for the disease. Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell told his fellow commissioners on Tuesday that complaints about mosquitos are pouring into his office because of the spike in cases.
“We’ve had several complaints coming from the community about mosquitos and since there’s a West Nile epidemic going around, we wanted to get this started,” said Bell, during a commission pre-meeting.
Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting this year’s number of West Nile cases is the highest the federal agency has seen in the U.S. since the disease first appeared in 1999.
Clayton County Board of Health spokesman Joel Hall said there have been no reported human West Nile cases in Clayton County. No pools of mosquito samples in the county have tested positive for the virus either, he said. Still, Hall added, the virus has shown up in people living in neighboring counties, including Cobb and Fulton.
That, and past cases of West Nile showing up in mosquito pools from the county, has been enough for county health officials to already begin warning residents about the dangers of the disease.
“Clayton County has been fortunate not to have any recorded cases of West Nile this year, but we’ve had positive readings in the past and there have been positive readings in outlying metro counties this year,” said Hall. “No county is an island and the disease has the ability to cross county lines, so we’re asking people to take the necessary precautions to prevent them from getting West Nile Virus.”
County manager Wade Starr said the county’s central services department will provide the truck and personnel who will spray the mosquito repellent. Interim central services Director Theodis Locke told commissioners it would cost $7,128 for chemicals and another $7,200 for materials.
County officials are urging residents to follow the “Five D’s” of West Nile prevention: Dusk, dawn, dress, DEET and drain. Dusk and dawn is included because those are the times when mosquitos usually bite people and pets, according to health officials. DEET is a chemical mosquito repellent and people are encouraged to dress in loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect their skin.
The “drain” refers to a recommendation that people empty any items, such as flower pots and tires, where standing water can accumulate. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos.
People who want more information about West Nile Virus can visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov, the Clayton County Board of Health’s website at www.claytoncountypublichealth.org and the Georgia Division of Public Health’s website at www.health.state.ga.us/.