Experts say locally-transmitted Zika virus could happen soon

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Fulton County's Public Health Director said that while there are no locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus in Georgia yet, she expects to see the first one by this summer.
 
Dr. Kathleen Toomey told a gathering of Fulton County mayors and commissioners that she expects to see Zika in Georgia, because the state is home to the kind of mosquito that can carry the virus.
 
"I think it's inevitable, simply because we (don't) have the virus, but we do have the mosquito," said Toomey. "And I think we can expect to see, not unlike what we saw with West Nile."
 
The county is undertaking an aggressive plan to educate citizens about mosquitos and Zika. It's also doing comprehensive mosquito-spraying in high risk areas like senior citizens centers, park and day care centers.

Health officials feel seniors and young people are most at risk for contracting the virus.
 
"So we're doing everything we can to educate the public about what they can do to protect themselves," said Toomey. "Clean up their yards of any standing water. That may be a breeding ground for this kind of mosquito, and we have a very aggressive spray program, as well."
 
"Oh man, they're pretty bad to tell the truth," said Palmetto resident James Coursey. He said the mosquitos are almost out of control around his backyard pool.
 
"If you walk out in your backyard, within 10 minutes, you'll get 15 to 20 mosquito bites," Coursey said.

Thomas Peek, 85, said he’s well-aware of the risk Zika poses to senior citizens, so he’s done a lot to clear the mosquitos off his property.

"They ain't bad at my house," said Peek. "I put out mosquito plants, and I put that stuff in all the water, those dunks."
 
Fulton County has a mosquito hotline to answer questions at 404-613-1303.