Alexandria Health Department Warns of Increase in Mosquitoes
The Alexandria Health Department reminds residents of the risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the aftermath of the recent storm and urges the public to remember to use personal protection when mosquito exposure is likely.
“There is more standing water around neighborhoods, many damaged homes that allow mosquitoes access to people indoors, and more residents spending time outdoors cleaning up debris and making repairs,” said Alexandria Health Director Dr. Stephen Haering. “People need to remember that we face a risk from West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) viruses as well as other mosquito-borne diseases at this time of year.”
The standing water resulting from this storm may initiate the hatching of large numbers of mosquitoes in coming weeks, increasing the potential for human infection from mosquito-borne diseases. People who are working outdoors or do not have screens in their windows will be at increased risk of being bitten. Those individuals over 50 years of age are at increased risk for serious complications from West Nile virus and EEE.
“We expect to see an increase in the mosquito population and are urging people to continue to take precautions when outdoors,” stressed Bob Custard, Alexandria’s environmental health manager. “West Nile virus is active in our area and will continue to be a threat to humans for several months.”
Most people bitten by a mosquito with West Nile virus do not get sick. People who do get sick usually suffer a mild flu-like illness. Few people suffer serious illness, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain or spinal cord). Although more rare, EEE is more likely to cause serious illness if someone gets infected.
If you are bitten by a mosquito, you do not need to see a doctor. Most people who suffer a mild illness due to West Nile virus or EEE recover, and no treatment is necessary. Only supportive treatment is available for more serious cases. Human testing, involving blood and spinal fluid, is usually only conducted on people with encephalitis or meningitis and can take several weeks to get results.
The Alexandria Health Department recommends the following tips to reduce exposure to mosquitoes:
- Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing.
- Use insect repellent products with picaridin or no more than 50% DEET for adults and no more than 30% DEET for children. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Turn over or remove containers in your yard where water collects, such as old tires, potted plant trays, buckets and toys.
- Eliminate standing water on tarps or flat roofs.
- Clean out birdbaths and wading pools once a week.
- Clean roof gutters and downspout screens regularly.
- Repair screens on doors and windows.
For more information on mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases, please call the Alexandria Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at 703-746-4910 or visit alexandriava.gov/MosquitoControl.