This summer ‘may be worst year we’ve seen’ for Zika in Georgia

ATLANTA – Mosquitoes are out in full force already, thanks to our warm winter. The state Department of Health said the type that carries Zika is rare in our area.

But Channel 2’s Carl Willis went out with members of a pest control crew who believe this could be Georgia’s worst year for mosquitoes.

Weather that was unseasonably warm earlier this year and then unusually cold recently, may have given mosquitoes a head start multiplying in foliage and creeks.

That could affect something you haven’t heard about in a while — Zika.

“Atlanta got off to a little bit of slow start for heat but as soon as that started happening, about three to four weeks ago, the calls started rolling in,” said Ryan Claterbaugh, with Mr. Mister Mosquito Control.

Those calls were to fight off the mosquitoes.

Claterbaugh said a mild winter and early spring means it could be a long summer fighting of the pests.

“We actually started getting calls in February this year. Which, is a little unusual,” Claterbaugh said.

Willis met with Claterbaugh’s crew as it went out to Amy Sirlin’s home in Sandy Springs Thursday.

Her home in mosquito-free right now thanks to a built in misting system but she said the area around her is rampant with mosquitoes.

“Because of the foliage and everything associated with it, the mosquitoes are just terrible,” Sirlin told Willis.

Willis contacted Georgia Department of Public Health officials, who told Willis it likely means the mosquitoes got a head start multiplying earlier in the year and potentially higher numbers for mosquitoes and bird populations could lead to an increase in West Nile virus cases.

While the buzz around the Zika virus may have died down, Claterbaugh believes this could be the year we see a case in Georgia.

“This may be the worst year we’ve seen for it yet in Georgia. I just don’t think the temperatures have been right but I think once we get into the summer you’ll start seeing more of it,” Claterbaugh said.

But that’s not a risk you just have to accept. The fight starts with eliminating standing water and clearing heavy foliage.

“Get that stuff trimmed, make sure your gutters are cleaned, after we have a heavy rain, look at the kids toys anything you have laying around,” Claterbaugh said.

Mosquito season typically starts in May and ends in October. But weather could make it last well into November.

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