Could You Be Breeding West Nile Mosquitoes?

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

July 22, 2005

All this heat is bringing out the mosquitoes. So far this year, the West Nile virus has killed one person in California, and Virginia recently had its first case of West Nile. With the mosquito season so late this year, experts say it might just get worse.

It's confirmed that the first West Nile virus case in Virginia was found in a mosquito pool in Henrico County, outside of Richmond. But, officials said this is very late in the mosquito breeding season and that might have an effect on the rest of the year.

"With this latest information that we have, we know it's still here and invariably there will be some people that are infected with the West Nile virus this year," said Roy Crewz, from the Charlottesville Health Department.

Experts said it only takes a week for an infected mosquito to breed. Most people think mosquitoes breed in big ponds but actually all it takes is a bottle cap full of stagnant water.

"If there are any areas where there is standing water [you need] to get rid of it [and] to provide some drainage to make sure that you are in fact not exposing yourself to this very serious disease," said Crewz.

That means anything in your gardening area or around your home could be used as a breeding ground, including potted plants or bird baths.

These few recommendations could save your life. Although West Nile's flu like symptoms are rarely noticed, if it worsens, experts said there is no vaccine.

"We've lost, I believe, about 5 people in the State of Virginia since it was first discovered a few years ago."

Officials also recommend limiting time spent outdoors during dusk or dawn. When you're outside, apply the insect repellent DEET. Finally, wear long-sleeves and long pants to avoid mosquito bites.

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