Residents Reminded to Eliminate Standing Water, Protect Themselves Against Mosquito Bites
Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) collections in the 1600 block of Dewitt Avenue in Alexandria have tested positive for the West Nile Virus, marking Alexandria’s first reported activity of the virus in this species for the 2010 season.
The mosquitoes were collected by the Alexandria Department of Health’s Environmental Health Division on August 10 after strong storms left standing water and damage throughout the area.
“West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness that may cause fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. In a small percentage of people infected, these symptoms can progress to neurological ailments, including high fever, tremors, coma, and paralysis which may be permanent,” said Alexandria Health Department Director Dr. Stephen Haering.
“We typically find West Nile Virus in mosquitoes that primarily feed on birds. Our concern is that we have now found it in the Asian Tiger mosquito, which commonly feeds on humans,” said Environmental Health Manager Bob Custard. “We have ways to prevent the spread of diseases like West Nile Virus.”
The Asian Tiger mosquito tends to bite during daylight hours. They breed mostly in containers holding water, such as flower pots, bird baths, corrugated pipe, and outdoor toys. The mosquito population can be greatly reduced by keeping yards clear of all containers holding standing water.
The Alexandria Health Department recommends the following tips to eliminate mosquito-breeding areas in your neighborhood and to reduce exposure to mosquitoes:
To Eliminate Mosquito Breeding on Your Property:
- Empty birdbaths and other water-holding containers, such as trays under flowerpots, at least once a week.
- Dispose of used tires properly.
- Clean roof gutters and downspouts.
- Drain corrugated black drainpipes for any water collection.
- Turn over wading pools, wheelbarrows, canoes, pails, trash can lids, children’s toys, and any other objects that can hold water. Remember items stored under decks and porches!
- Repair dripping outdoor water faucets.
- Drain water from tarps and grill covers.
To Avoid Mosquito Bites:
- Avoid outdoor activities in mosquito-infested areas like marshes and wetlands.
- Use insect repellants, such as DEET, Picardin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Follow per label directions.
- Wear loose, long and light-colored clothing when outdoors.
- Check window and door screens for holes and repair, if necessary, with a fine-mesh screen.
For more information on West Nile Virus, visit the following websites:
- Virginia Department of Health: www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/DEE/Vectorborne/WestNile/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm
For additional questions or concerns regarding mosquitoes or mosquito-borne illness, please call the Alexandria Health Department, Vector-borne Illness Prevention Program, Environmental Health Biologist Kristin Binkley, at (703) 746-4973.