Study: Mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus in popular park

by: Craig Lucie Updated:

ATLANTA - An Emory professor conducting a study on mosquitoes found many of them tested positive for West Nile virus at a popular metro Atlanta park and golf course.

Emory students have been setting up traps at night two to three times a week. After some extensive testing they found a high number of mosquitoes tested positive at Tanyard Creek Park and Bobby Jones Golf Course.

Both are not far from Kakhi Wakefield's house, he told Channel 2's Craig Lucie.

"I'm worried about one of my daughters. The mosquitoes love her. She has sweet meat," said Wakefield.

Dr. Uriel Kitron, the chair of the Department of Environmental Studies, says Wakefield and her daughters should be fine as long as they apply bug spray and stay in at night.

"The mosquito that transmits West Nile virus is an evening mosquito," said Kitron.

Kitron said they come out an hour before sunset and are active through the night.

He said they also found wildlife infected with the virus at several parks.

"Some positive birds were also collected in specific area including Tanyard Creek area and Grant Park area," said Kitron.

Channel 2 Action News observed one Emory class where students are helping with the West Nile study. Students showed us electric fans that they hang from trees that have a light on them. The fan will suck the mosquitoes down into a container. After they are trapped, they are placed in a small vial for testing.

"We put this vial in a machine that shakes them up like this so they get all pulverized and mashed into a delicious, disgusting mosquito juice, and then with the juice we put it on a plate that has some cells on it," said fifth-year graduate student and teacher Rebecca Levine.

Levine says if the cells die, West Nile virus killed them.

Officials said the best means of protection for residents besides putting on repellant containing DEET is to get rid of any standing water near their homes. Kitron said that will kill the larvae, and since mosquitoes will not travel far from their water source, it will also keep them away.

Channel 2 Action News

Delivered To Your Inbox