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West Nile found in Hinesville
Mosquito tests positive for virus
Hinesville mosquito-control program assistant Ronnie Cox holds up a trap similar to the one in Hinesville that caught a mosquito found to be carrying West Nile Virus. - photo by Photo by Randy C. Murray

A mosquito recently found in a trap set by mosquito-control program employees with Hinesville’s public-works contractor, CH2MHILL/OMI, tested positive for West Nile Virus.

According to Kenna Graham, OMI parks and grounds supervisor and mosquito-control director, part of Hinesville’s mosquito-control program includes setting traps around the city throughout the breeding season. Captured mosquitoes then are tested for communicable diseases. He said test results from a mosquito that was part of a sample taken in downtown Hinesville during the week of Aug. 18 came back positive Aug. 27.

His assistant, Ronnie Cox, said the first thing they did was go back to that site to retreat it with pesticide. They recently collected another sample from a trap that will go to the University of Georgia’s Southeastern Cooperative for Wildlife Disease Studies. Cox said the good news is only one infected mosquito was found in one of more than 25 traps set throughout the city. He said mosquitoes pick up the virus from infected birds.

“This is the first time we’ve had a mosquito test positive for West Nile Virus,” Graham said. “Liberty County has been testing mosquitoes for years, and they’ve never found a mosquito that tested positive. Still, we felt like the public needed to know about that one mosquito.”

Graham said the unusual thing about the mosquito that tested positive was its species, which he called a “container mosquito.” He said that mosquito species is not the one that usually carries the West Nile Virus. Although the new sample’s test results aren’t back, he said there were no container mosquitoes found in the recent sample from the previously tested site. However, there were “plenty” of the mosquitoes found that are known to carry West Nile Virus.

As he talked to the Courier in his OMI office, Graham counted mosquitoes under a microscope that he placed in a small vial as part of the new sample heading to UGA. Each vial contains at least 25 mosquitoes, he said.

“This is only the second full year we’ve tested mosquitoes in the city,” Cox said. “And with over 25 trap locations, this one spot was the only one with one of 25 mosquitoes to test positive. Also, because this was a container mosquito, the public should know this kind don’t travel more than one block from where they’re bred. They’ll stay in the same area.”

Cox said articles published by the Courier last year apparently were heeded by local residents. The articles detailed strategies from the experts for decreasing mosquito populations by eliminating their breeding sources — bird baths, kiddie pools and anything else that might hold water long enough for mosquitoes to breed. Cox said most of the neighborhoods he’s inspected this year have not had a lot of mosquito-breeding sources.

OMI Director Guan Ellis agreed with Graham and Cox, saying he hopes residents will continue to do a good job eliminating the source for container mosquitoes. He said his staff will continue monitoring mosquito populations, treating high-population areas and testing for infected mosquitoes.

“We’re just trying to alert the neighborhoods because we did find one infected mosquito,” Ellis said. “And we want to remind people to continue to empty those outside containers that could breed mosquitoes. If anyone has any questions, they can call Kenna at 876-8216.”


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