Washington, DC –The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) has positively identified the West Nile Virus in several mosquito samples in the District. Residents should take caution as mosquitoes have the potential to transmit West Nile Virus (WNV) to humans.
West Nile Virus is mainly an infection of birds, but on occasion 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 may cause mild flu-like symptoms but generally cause no symptoms.
Senior citizens and those with suppressed immune systems are more vulnerable to infection. These residents are encouraged to stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active. People with a higher risk of infection should wear long-sleeved shirts, 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. If positive test results are identified, DOH staff will visit the infected site, advise residents regarding the elimination of 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 in and around the affected locations and areas. DOH will continue efforts to conduct surveillance and to control the mosquito population.
“Mosquito prevention begins with the residents living in the District of Columbia, said Dr. Saul Levin, Interim Director, DOH. “All residents should eliminate standing water in and around their homes, wear long sleeves while outdoors and use insect repellent with DEET. Practicing these preventative measures will help protect our community from mosquito bites and reduce the risk of contracting West Nile Virus.”
Tips Residents Can Use to Reduce Mosquitoes:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
For more information about this topic, please visit doh.dc.gov; www.cdc.gov, or call the West Nile Virus Call Center at (202) 535-2323.