County Reports First Positive Test for West Nile Virus


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

July 27, 2005

 

County Reports First Positive Test for West Nile Virus

Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, director of the Fairfax County Health Department, announced today that a mosquito pool collected on July 21 in the Lee District of Fairfax County has tested positive for West Nile virus. This is the first positive mosquito pool identified this year and is the first indicator of West Nile virus activity in the county.

“This is a reminder to residents that West Nile virus is active in Fairfax County, and now is the time for people to protect themselves from mosquitoes by eliminating mosquito breeding areas around their neighborhoods and using insect repellents. Removing breeding sites protects everyone and reduces risk of infection for the whole community,” Addo-Ayensu said.

The Health Department staff has trapped, identified and tested more than 34,000 mosquitoes in 3,000 pools so far this year. In past years positive mosquito pools were discovered much earlier in the season. “With abnormally cooler weather conditions earlier this summer, the virus has probably taken a bit longer to present itself,” said County Entomologist Dr. Jorge Arias.

West Nile virus is spread to birds, humans, horses and other mammals through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not get sick. However, the majority of those who do get sick usually suffer a mild flu-like illness. People over age 50 are at greatest risk of serious illness, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).

Since mid-May, the Fairfax County environmental health staff has taken a proactive approach in combating West Nile virus by treating more than 35,000 storm drains with a larvicide, which inhibits mosquito breeding. Storm drain treatments will continue for the rest of the mosquito season in targeted areas of the county. While these treatments will not eliminate all of the mosquitoes that carry the virus, the mosquito population should be dramatically reduced.

Since 2002, Fairfax County has had 17 human cases and two deaths as a result of West Nile virus. Fairfax County continues with an active outreach and education program to help inform residents about mosquito control and personal protection. In an effort to reach most of the population, mosquito control educational materials are available in English, as well as for many non-English-speaking residents.

The Fairfax County Health Department and Virginia Department of Health recommend the following tips for residents to reduce exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Use insect repellent products containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. (Always follow label instructions.)
  • Wear long, loose, light-colored clothing.
  • Turn over or remove containers in your yard where water collects, such as old tires, potted plant trays, buckets and toys.
  • Fill in root-ball holes from downed trees or any depression that holds water for more than a week.
  • Eliminate standing water on tarps or flat roofs.
  • Clean out birdbaths and wading pools once a week.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspouts regularly.

For more information, contact Arias at 703-246-2300, TTY 703-591-6436, or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fightthebite/.

Fairfax County is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in all county programs, services and activities and will provide reasonable accommodations upon request. To request special accommodations, call 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935. Please allow five working days in advance of events in order to make the necessary arrangements

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