August 23, 2004

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Antonio D. Adams Student Assistant

VSU Hosted Mosquito Identification Course

Valdosta State University played host to a mosquito identification course funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Health and Human Services. This course was offered to various public health officials throughout the local community and surrounding areas June 22-24.

According to Dr. Mark Blackmore, Associate Professor and Chief local researcher concerning West Nile Disease, there are 64 different species of mosquitoes in Georgia.

?These mosquitoes can carry fatal diseases such as the West Nile virus and the Eastern Equine Encephalitis,? stated Blackmore. ?The only way to control the amount of mosquitoes in the community is to be capable of identifying them.? Scientists say identifying the species
reveals its breeding information, therefore, allowing individuals to destroy its breeding environment.

?This is a wonderful experience for me,? stated Dr. Mike Brackett, a student in the course. Brackett is the District Health Director for Diseases in LaGrange, GA. ?It is a great honor and pleasure to be in the midst of such bright experts.?

Dr. Bruce Harrison and Parker Whitt of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, along with Dr. Rosmarie Kelly of the Georgia Department of Human Resources, traveled from their home cities to aid in the course. Dr. Harrison, Medical Entomologist, has studied mosquitoes for over 40 years.

?Over the years I have traveled to many places including Asia and Africa where I have witnessed people die over mosquito bites,? stated Harrison. ?It is very important to me to help educated individuals on how to identify the different species of mosquitoes.?

Whitt, an Environmental Specialist, stated that a person cannot determine if a mosquito is a carrier of a fatal disease by looking at it. ?A person has a greater chance of winning the lottery than being bitten by a carrier of a disease,? stated Parker. ?But there is that chance.?

According to Dr. Kelly, Medical Entomologist, tips for reducing the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes include not going outside unless necessary, using a fan, insect repellant, or wearing long shirts and pants. Buckets, gutters, birdbaths, flowerpots, or anything where water could stand should be eliminated to reduce breeding locations.

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