Monday, September 10, 2007

Lubber Run Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus

Some mosquitoes in Lubber Run Park and many other locations in Arlington are infected with West Nile Virus, the county reported last week and earlier. Mosquitoes at McCoy, Fort Scott and Marcey Road parks and near Walter Reed Community Center were found infected last week. Infected mosquitoes have been found in areas all over the county, according to press releases.

Not all mosquitoes can become infected with the virus. Only infected mosquitoes can infect birds, horses and humans, according to various sources. The vast majority of people infected show few, if any, of the symptoms which can include fever or other illness, spinal meningitis (a swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), or encephalitis (a swelling of the brain).

The county reported Arlington’s first human case of West Nile Virus infection for the year on Aug. 31. The Lyon Park resident is over 50 years old, the county press release said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Sept. 4, there were four fatalities due to West Nile Virus in the United States. Just over 600 people became ill with fever or other sickness. 280 have gotten encephalitis or meningitis.

According to the CDC web site there was only one report of West Nile encephalitis or meningitis in all of Virginia and no fevers or other illness from West Nile, but a county press release reported four cases for the state so far this year.

By comparison, tens of thousands of people die every year from the flu and its complications.

Mosquitos need as little as a quarter cup of still water (preferably a little dirty) in which to reproduce, and it takes days for the eggs to hatch larvae and then metamorph into the flying insects, experts say. Also, they cannot fly very far, so clearing out even the smallest puddles around the house and cleaning bird baths can help keep the mosquito population down.

According to the county, you can reduce your exposure to mosquitoes by paying particular attention to the following:

  • Make sure window and door screens in your home are functional and in place.
  • Use insect repellent products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency such as products containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. When using a product containing DEET, no more than 50 percent DEET should be used for adults and less than 30 percent should be used for children. Follow instructions when using insect repellents.

    You can reduce the threat of mosquito breeding by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes like to lay their eggs:

  • Remove all artificial breeding sources such as cans, bottles, plastic containers and old tires from your yard.
  • Replace the water in birdbaths and potted plant trays at least once a week.
  • Turn over wading pools, small boats, wheelbarrows, buckets and toys so they don’t hold water.
  • Shake out the tarps that cover grills, firewood, boats, swimming pools and yard equipment at least once a week.
  • Keep garbage cans and recycling containers closed.
  • Drain or treat unused swimming pools.
  • Keep rain gutters clean to prevent them from holding standing water.

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