MASON COUNTY — In the midst of the summer months and evenings spent by the pool and bonfires, the prevention of insect bites can sometimes be overlooked, but recent studies show those precautions are becoming even more important.
The Mason County Health Department has recently been notified by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health (BPH) of a recent increase in West Nile virus activity among mosquitoes. Currently, mosquito surveillance data shows that 41 of 200 (20.5 percent) collected mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile virus. The majority of the positive mosquito pools were collected June 28, 2012, to July 10, 2012. In comparison, by the same time last year one of 70 (1.4 percent) mosquito pools was positive for West Nile virus. So far this year, no human cases of West Nile virus have been detected.
“You can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood by emptying standing or stagnant water from cans, bottles, old tires, wading pools, flower pots, and other containers,” said Jeff Fowler, sanitarian. “You can also clean out clogged gutters and drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats. In addition, make sure that all windows have proper screens to help keep mosquitoes out of your home.”
Mosquito populations can be reduced or eliminated by removing all potential places for standing water, such as bird baths, pet bowls, tires, pots, cans or even bottle caps. There is no container too small when it comes to potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus.
When outdoors, people can protect themselves by wearing long, loose and light colored clothing and by using mosquito repellents. Mosquito repellents should always be used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, confusion, weakness, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck.
BPH will continue to monitor West Nile activity with dead bird, horse, and mosquito surveillance. Persons who see a dead bird should contact their local health department. Birds are tested for West Nile and other mosquito-borne diseases through the West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services.
For more information, contact Jeff Fowler at the Mason County Health Department at 304-675-3050 or the Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 1-304-558-5358, 1-800-432-1271, or by visiting www.dide.wv.gov.