DeKalb health officials: more mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus

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If you already put the bug spray away for the season, you will want to pull it back out.

The DeKalb County Board of Health issued an update this week warning residents that more than five times more mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus this year than last.

"We are concerned," explained Juanetta Willis, the arbovirus coordinator.  "This year we're seeing a lot of virus in the mosquitoes we're collecting and so we want, not to alert people, but to make people aware that they really need to be taking the precautions.  Most people infected with West Nile Virus are infected during August, September and in October.  So, even though the kids are back at school, I need you to keep using the repellent and dumping the water." 

Health officials collect samples of mosquitoes from traps placed at various locations throughout the county.  Traps near Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Stone Mountain and Tucker have all tested positive for West Nile Virus.

"The northern half--there's kind of a band from Atlanta through Tucker that we do see more virus. We see more transmission through all the years there.  So, that area we are seeing a lot more there, but really anywhere in DeKalb County, anywhere in metro Atlanta you are at risk, not just where we've collected mosquitoes," explained Willis.

The best way to keep the bugs at bay is to remove any standing water from your property.

"People do tend to think of the big sources like lakes and creeks, but really our mosquitoes breed in small, man-made containers.  So, really look at your yard with a different eye," Willis said.

That includes saucers underneath potted plants, trashcan lids, corrugated plastic tubing on gutters and even trash or other plastic that can collect water when it rains.

Willis also recommends people use CDC-approved mosquito repellents when participating in outdoor activities.

So far, two people in DeKalb County have contract West Nile Virus in 2017.  Both were men in their 70s.