Larvae of Southern House Mosquito
The West Nile Virus was introduced into the United States in 1999 and quickly spread throughout the nation. The virus lives in bird populations and is spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then a human. Of persons who become infected, only about twenty percent will develop any symptoms but around one in 150 will develop the severe form of the disease, an encephalitis which can kill or cause life-long disabilities. Common symptoms include some or all of the following: fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches occasionally with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks. The severe form of encephalitis may involve headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Of those that develop encephalitis, 3 to 15% will die.
Everyone has heard of the severe outbreak of West Nile Virus in Dallas, Texas and it appears that Georgia will have more cases this year than average. The mosquito that is primarily responsible for spreading the West Nile Virus from birds to humans in Georgia is the Southern House Mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus. Southern house mosquitoes are generally foul water breeders. They breed in catch basins, storm water outfalls and residential containers of all kinds.
Past investigations have found Culex quinquefasciatus breeding the following locations: open septic tanks, buckets, boats, ornamental ponds, tires, rubbish bins, dumpsters, plastic containers, vases flower pots, fountains, swimming pools, hot tubs and wheel barrows - almost anything that will hold water for a week or more.