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Mosquitoes Test Positive For West Nile Virus In Fairfax County

Armen Hareyan's picture

West Nile Virus

The Fairfax County Health Department announced that a mosquito pool collected in the Mount Vernon district of Fairfax County has tested positive for West Nile virus.

This is the first positive mosquito pool identified this year in the county.

"This is a reminder to residents that West Nile virus is still active in Fairfax County and now is the time for people to pay close attention to eliminating mosquito breeding areas around their neighborhoods," said Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H., health director. "Removing breeding sites by tipping and tossing standing water protects everyone and reduces the risk of infection for the whole community."

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West Nile virus is spread to birds, humans, horses and other mammals through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Most people bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile virus do not get sick. Those that develop symptoms usually suffer a mild, flu-like illness. People older than 50 are at greatest risk of more severe illness, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).

Beginning this month, the Fairfax County Health Department's Environmental Health staff are taking a proactive approach to combating West Nile virus by treating more than 30,000 storm drains with an environmentally-friendly larvicide which inhibits mosquito breeding. More storm drain treatments are scheduled throughout the mosquito season, which typically runs from May until October. While these treatments will not eliminate all of the mosquitoes that carry the virus, the mosquito population may be reduced.

"We are closely monitoring mosquitoes this year and have tested more than 8,000 so far, looking for West Nile and other arboviruses," said Jorge Arias, Ph.D., Fairfax County environmental health entomologist.

Fairfax County has an active outreach and education program and staff are aggressively promoting the mosquito management campaign, "Fight the Bite: Say NO to MOsquitoes." A number of educational materials have been developed for English and non-English speaking residents.

The Health Department recommends the following tips for residents to reduce exposure to mosquitoes: