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West Nile Virus Found In Mt.Vernon District

Fairfax County Health Department has announced that a mosquito pool collected in Mount Vernon District has tested positive for West Nile virus. This is the first positive mosquito pool identified in the county this year, according to the department.

"This is a reminder to residents that West Nile virus is still active in Fairfax County and now is the time for people to pay close attention to eliminating mosquito breeding areas around their neighborhoods," said Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H., health director.

West Nile is spread to birds, humans, horses and other mammals through the bite of an infected mosquito, according to Addo-Ayensu. However, most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not get sick, she emphasized.

Those who develop symptoms usually suffer a mild, flu-like illness. Those over 50 years of age are at greatest risk of more severe illness, such as encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, according to the department announcement.

The department's Environmental Health staff have are combating the spread of the disease by treating more than 30,000 storm drains with environmentally friendly larvicide which inhibits mosquito breeding. This will continue throughout mosquito season, according to the department.

"We are closely monitoring mosquitoes this year and have tested more than 8,000 so far, looking for West Nile and other arboviruses," said Jorge Arias, Ph.D., Fairfax County environmental health entomologist.

RESIDENTS ARE URGED to take the following precautions:

* When spending time outdoors, use insect repellents containing the active ingredient DEET.

* Wear long, loose-fitting, light colored clothing.

* Turn over or remove outdoor containers where water collects and remove water on all tarps.

* Fill in all ground holes that can hold water for more than a week.

* Clean out bird baths and wading pools at least once a week.

* Clean roof gutters and corrugated drain pipes.

For additional information on West Nile virus, visit Fairfax County's "Fight the Bite" Web page at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fightthebite or call 703-246-2300, TTY 703-591-6435.