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City residents warned about West Nile virus

RICHMOND, Va. –The Richmond City Health District warned residents after mosquito surveillance conducted along the borders of Henrico County and the City of Richmond revealed a large number of mosquito samples testing positive for West Nile virus.

Last week, around 3,000 Henrico County residents were notified that the West Nile virus was detected in some neighborhoods.

Richmond City Health officials said this presents an increased risk of mosquito borne transmission of West Nile virus to residents of Richmond neighborhoods in proximity to these areas, though officials emphasized that most people (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms

Based on the surveillance data, it is reasonable to assume that mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus are also present in other Richmond communities, the agency said.

City residents are encouraged to be mindful of public health messages about preventing mosquito bites and eliminating stagnant water around their homes where mosquitoes can breed.

The notice to residents is not a reason for alarm, the agency emphasized, but it’s important to be aware of risks for mosquito-borne disease.

Some residents in the Lakeside area were warned that West Nile was detected in their neighborhood.

Multiple traps were set earlier this summer, and the mosquitoes checked for West Nile, a Henrico County official explained. If there is a positive result officials will trap in the same area multiple times to verify the first results. Only after the second and possibly third times do they send notices to residents in the area.

The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile virus, Zika virus or other mosquito-borne disease is to prevent them from biting, health officials said.

Different species of mosquitoes spread different viruses and bite at different times of the day.  For instance, in our area, Asian Tiger mosquitoes which are carriers for Zika virus primarily bite very aggressively during the day.

Culex species mosquitoes which are carriers of West Nile virus bite primarily from dusk through dawn.

When outside, use insect repellent containing DEET or an EPA-registered active ingredient; follow the directions on the package.

Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn; use insect repellent and wear light-colored long sleeves and pants at these times or stay indoors.

Eliminate mosquito breeding areas by addressing areas in your yard where rainwater collects. Turn over or empty any objects that collect rainwater. Empty bird baths, flower pots, buckets or barrels, etc. Remove old tires; eliminate standing water on flat roofs, clean gutters and downspouts; empty water from boats or tarps; keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when not in use.  Treat large water areas and difficult puddles with larvicide pellets to prevent mosquito larvae from maturing.

Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home

According to the CDC, about one to five people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as a headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

The CDC said that one in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

Read more about the symptoms here.