West Nile virus found in mosquitoes in Richmond, Henrico neighborhoods

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

(WRIC) — Health officials are warning residents after mosquito surveillance conducted along the borders of Henrico County and the City of Richmond have identified a large number of mosquito samples (pools) testing positive for West Nile virus.

The Richmond City Health District says this presents an increased risk of mosquito borne transmission of West Nile virus to residents of Richmond neighborhoods in proximity to these areas. Based on the surveillance data, they say it is reasonable to assume that mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus are also present in other Richmond communities. Therefore, the Richmond City Health District is encouraging all city residents to be mindful of public health messages about preventing mosquito bites and eliminating stagnant water around their homes where mosquitoes can breed.

The notice to residents is not a reason for alarm, the agency said, but it’s important to be aware of risks for mosquito-borne disease.

The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile virus, Zika virus or other mosquito-borne disease is to prevent them from biting. Different species of mosquitoes spread different viruses and bite at different times of the day. For instance, in our area, Asian Tiger mosquitoes which are carriers for Zika virus primarily bite very aggressively during the day. Culex species mosquitoes which are carriers of West Nile virus bite primarily from dusk through dawn.

  • When outside, use insect repellent containing DEET or an EPA-registered active ingredient; follow the
    directions on the package.
  •  Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn; use insect repellent and wear light-colored long
    sleeves and pants at these times or stay indoors.
  •  Eliminate mosquito breeding areas by addressing areas in your yard where rainwater collects. Turn over or empty any objects that collect rainwater. Empty bird baths, flower pots, buckets or barrels, etc.Remove old tires; eliminate standing water on flat roofs, clean gutters and downspouts; empty water from boats or tarps; keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when not in use. Treat large water areas and difficult puddles with larvicide pellets to prevent mosquito larvae from maturing.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

The CDC gave information about West Nile virus states:

Most people (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.

About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

Less than 1 percent of people who are infected will develop serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.

For information about West Nile virus, visit the CDC website here.  For more information about preventing mosquito borne illness, also visit the Virginia Department of Health
website here.