Weather creates ideal climate for mosquitoes

LAWRENCEVILLE - While kids play outside and enjoy the remaining days of a wet summer, Gwinnett County health officials want to remind families that the prime time for West Nile Virus is right around the corner.

"Mosquitoes in this part of Georgia have the greatest numbers from the middle of August to the middle of October," said Vernon Goins of the Gwinnett County Health Department. "We see the vast majority of West Nile Virus cases after the first of August."

Goins said all the wet weather Gwinnett citizens have endured over the past month has created prime conditions for mosquito reproduction.

"Wet areas create ideal breeding grounds, and we've had an extraordinarily wet summer," Goins said.

Since the beginning of June, 14.64 inches of rain have been recorded at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Duluth.

That is about 6.5 inches more rain than during the same period last year.

So far this year, the Health Department has not found a single mosquito carrying the West Nile Virus in any of their 20 mosquito traps around the county.

Goins also said they haven't found any birds or had any human cases of West Nile reported.

As the heavy mosquito period approaches, Goins urged people to take precautions to decrease their chances of being affected by West Nile Virus.

"The only way to avoid West Nile is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes," Goins said.

Goins said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended two new mosquito repellents - picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus - that are less oily and less smelly than DEET.

Goins also said people should be conscious of standing water around their homes because mosquitoes will breed in those areas.

Dog days of summer

Pets have felt the effects of the wet summer weather as well, with fleas being more prevalent this summer.

"We've seen an increase in fleas from this year to last year," said Michael Wanchick, doctor of veterinary medicine at Russell Ridge Animal Hospital in Lawrenceville. "I think having more rain this year has a lot to do with the increase, but I'm not a scientific expert on fleas."

Wanchick said that he's treated a lot more animals with flea dermatitis and that some animals are allergic to flea bites and can have reactions that are similar to people with allergies to bee stings.

Wanchick recommends families not only get treatment for their pets but for their yards and homes as well.