Mosquitos test positive for West Nile in Richmond

By Jola Szubielski - bio | email
Health officials have confirmed several mosquitoes in our area have tested positive for the West Nile Virus. 

These are the first cases of the summer and serve as a reminder about the importance of taking precautions. 

Health officials say they found several mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile on July 2nd, making it the earliest they've seen to date.

State health officials say they believe the earlier they find mosquitoes that test positive for West Nile Virus in the season, often times correlates to a higher risk of infection for humans.

As recently as the beginning of this month, mosquitoes were identified in three batches collected in Richmond: two in the Battery Park area and one on the city's Southside on near Semmes Avenue. 

While city health officials may no longer be surprised by the appearance of infected mosquitoes in Virginia, it's not any less dangerous to humans and can in fact be deadly.

"We know they're going to be here so we take steps and encourage citizens to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites," says George Jones, Richmond City Health District spokesperson. "And the most important thing is to keep the numbers down and you do that by eliminating the number of places mosquitoes can breed. "

As of yesterday, the city's Department of Public Utilities has already treated the identified areas. And like last year, will continue to spray storm drains where mosquitoes breed year round to keep the population from growing. And since West Nile Virus can be transmitted to humans from an infected mosquitoe bite. There are some things you want to do on your own to protect yourself. Eliminate standing water around your home.

"Gutters, check your gutters, make sure they're clear, also puddles in your yard, toys, swimming pools should be checked and emptied," says Jones.

You also want to make sure you wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothing, wear insect repellent products with no more than 40 percent deet, and if possible, stay indoors when mosquitoes are at their worst -- in the early morning and at dusk.

Last year, there were five cases of the virus reported in humans in Virginia. So far, none have been reported this year.

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