HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — West Nile Virus has been detected in mosquitoes on numerous occasions throughout Henrico County, the Virginia Department of Health warns.
While neighboring counties do not have mosquito surveillance or testing programs, the widespread presence of infected mosquitoes in Henrico throughout the course of the summer suggests that mosquitoes in other neighboring jurisdictions may also be carrying the virus.
The presence of heavy rains throughout the summer have left pools of standing water throughout the region – expanding the number of mosquito breeding grounds and increasing the need for Virginians to protect themselves against bites.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus include headache, fever, body aches or a rash, but infections can also cause mental confusion, disorientation, or paralysis in some people. While most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will not get sick or experience symptoms, people over age 60 and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for severe illness and even death.
There has been one probable human case of West Nile so far this year in Virginia.
To protect yourself from West Nile, the Virginia Department of Health recommends that Virginians:
• Eliminate sources of standing water on your property. Clean out roof gutters, downspouts and birdbaths. Properly dispose of tires. Dump and turn over, remove or cover containers such as potted plant trays, garbage cans, buckets wheelbarrows, boats and toys. The mosquitoes that carry WNV can breed in any container of water – particularly if the flooded container also contains leaves, grass, and/or other rotting vegetation.
• Keep windows and doors to the home closed, or install or repair screens to keep mosquitoes out.
• Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day or night. However, it is advisable to stay indoors during peak mosquito biting times such as dusk, nighttime and dawn. The primary carrier of West Nile Virus, the “northern house mosquito,” becomes most active beginning at sundown.
• When possible, wear long, loose, light-colored clothing, including long sleeves, pants, shoes and socks.
• Apply an insect repellent that contains either DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 on clothing and exposed skin. Follow label instructions, particularly for children.