Editor's note: Since this story was published, a suspect case of West Nile virus in a Chatham County resident has been confirmed by a lab, according to Sally Silbermann of the Coastal Health District. This is the only confirmed case of the virus in a human this year.
Officials are predicting 2011 to have one of the most severe threats for West Nile in neighboring Chatham County, where at least 88 mosquito samples have tested positive for the virus.
While that’s not in Bryan County, it is just across the river. And Bryan County Environmental Health Director Skip Youmans said it stands to reason the virus could be in mosquitoes here, too.
“There’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t come across the Ogeechee River,” he said.
No mosquito samples have been taken in Bryan County this year like it has in Chatham. But that’s not because Bryan County wouldn’t like to do tests, according to County Administrator Phil Jones, it’s a matter of having the budget to do it.
“We have a $60,000 budget (for mosquito control), whereas Chatham probably has $300,000 budget,” for trapping, testing, spraying and even helicopters, Jones said.
With West Nile making regular appearances in local news in recent weeks, Jones said he’s hoping to get some help from the state.
“Because of the West Nile, I’ve asked Skip Youmans to work with the state health department and look into getting some mosquito traps and have some sampling done to see if there is any West Nile in the county,” he said.
Both Jones and Youmans said they don’t yet know how long it might take to get any assistance from the state.
In the meantime, Jones said the county has three trucks in its public works department that sprays for mosquitoes on an “irregular basis.”
“If we get a significant number of calls from residents about mosquito problems, then we would spray,” he said.
As of Thursday, the county had not sprayed for mosquitoes this year, according to the public works office.
Read more in the Aug. 6 edition of the News.