County continues mosquito monitoring

·2 min read

Jul. 25—VALDOSTA — Bug repellent won't be the only thing taking the sting out of mosquitoes.

Lowndes County has renewed its contract with Valdosta State University to continually monitor the area for the risk of mosquito-borne diseases. The services include trapping, identifying and testing.

The Mosquito Surveillance Program was formed more than two decades ago by VSU, the City of Valdosta, Lowndes County and the South Health District. The program works by providing data on vector and virus activity to local, state and national health agencies so precautions can be taken to help prevent disease transmission to humans and animals.

VSU student researchers, under the guidance of Dr. Mark Blackmore, a VSU biology professor, collects mosquitoes using traps placed in strategically located, permanent sampling areas throughout Valdosta and Lowndes County.

The sample adult mosquito populations at permanent locations in the unincorporated Lowndes County area.

Mosquitoes will be trapped three nights per week for approximately 35 weeks to identify the genus and species of mosquitoes collected from all locations and assay subsamples for mosquito-borne viruses. Virus isolation and identification will be carried out by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Survey, University of Georgia and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Blackmore confirmed that as the principal investigator, he and his undergraduate team notify the county immediately when viruses of public health concern are detected, which helps the proper agencies come up with an action plan.

"This allows us to accurately assess when diseases are moving around. ... When those things come into a new area and seem to be having an outbreak, we can assess the risk we have based on knowing what we have and where they are," he said.

"There's close to 3,000 species of mosquitoes worldwide and it's a very small subset of those that are actually capable of transmitting diseases. Within those, there's certain ones that are associated with certain disease-causing organisms, either viruses or parasites. So understanding what you have allows you to understand the risk and whether you need to be concerned and what you need to do in response to the new information that comes out."

Practical sampling will be divided evenly among seven locations: — 1411 New Statenville Highway, Valdosta. — 4511 Briggston Road, Valdosta. — 3336 Brown Road, Valdosta. — 2781 Old Clyattville Road, Valdosta. — 4990 Hammock Trail, Lake Park. — 410 E. Main St., Hahira. — 3215 Woodmen Circle, Valdosta.

VSU will provide written reports to Lowndes County and the SGRC for geographic information system mapping on a weekly basis. Reports will summarize weekly mosquito counts and genus and species by location and will include results of virus testing as they become available from SCWDS.