Washington, DC – The DC Department of Health (DOH) would like to remind residents to take precaution as we enter mosquito season in the District. Residents should be aware that mosquitoes have the potential to transmit West Nile Virus (WNV) to humans, and it is important for residents to take the necessary steps to avoid contracting the virus. To date in 2010, there have been no human cases of WNV in the District.
West Nile Virus is mainly an infection of birds, but on rare occasions an infected mosquito may spread it to humans. The WNV is not transmitted directly from birds to humans and the risk of WNV infection is low. In human infections, the virus generally causes no symptoms, or may cause mild flu-like symptoms and is rarely severe.
Senior citizens, infants, and those with suppressed immune symptoms are more vulnerable to infection. These residents are encouraged to stay indoors when mosquitoes are active. People with a higher risk of infection should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and apply insect repellent with DEET or other mosquito repellents to exposed skin according to manufacturer’s directions. For children, use a product with DEET concentration of less than 30%.
DOH conducts seasonal testing for WNV throughout the city, and in response to positive test results, DOH staff will go to the infected site and eliminate any standing water, and apply larvicide to surrounding catch basins, sewer drains and stagnant pools to aid in mosquito control. The application of larvicide is intended to target and destroy mosquito larva before they can develop into adult mosquitoes. In addition, DOH staff will also distribute literature at the locations and the surrounding eight-block areas, as well as at other locations throughout the District. DOH will continue efforts to conduct surveillance and to control the mosquito population.
DOH, in cooperation with other District agencies, is asking residents and businesses to help reduce the risk of the WNV by eliminating mosquito-breeding sites around their homes and businesses.
To prevent mosquito breeding areas:
- Dispose of cans, bottles and open containers properly. Store items for recycling in covered containers.
- Remove discarded tires. Drill drainage holes in tires used on playground equipment.
- Cover tires stored outside before each rain and uncover them promptly afterwards to prevent water from standing on the tarps.
- Clean roof gutters and downspouts regularly. Eliminate standing water from flat roofs.
- Turn over plastic wading pools, wheelbarrows and canoes when not in use.
- Cover waste containers with tight-fitting lids; never allow lids or cans to accumulate water. Flush bird baths and potted plant trays twice each week.
- Adjust tarps over grills, firewood piles, boats or swimming pools to eliminate small pockets of water from standing several days.
- Re-grade low areas where water stands; clean debris in ditches to eliminate standing water in low spots.
- 10. Maintain swimming pools, clean and chlorinate them as needed, aerate garden ponds and treat with “mosquito dunks” found at hardware stores.
- Fix dripping water faucets outside and eliminate puddles from air conditioners.
- Store pet food and water bowls inside when not in use.
DOH no longer collects and tests dead birds for WNV. However, the department does track and record dead birds. If a dead bird is found residents should dispose of the bird and call the DOH WNV Call Center at (202) 535-2323 to file a report.
To properly dispose of the bird:
- Wear protective gloves or use a plastic bag as a glove
- Place or wrap the dead bird in a plastic bag and tie the bag securely
- Dispose of the bag in an outdoor trash receptacle
- Wash your hands with soap and water
For more information about this topic, please visit doh.dc.gov; www.cdc.gov, or call the WNV Call Center at (202) 535-2323.