CHESAPEAKE – Officials from the Chesapeake Health Department have confirmed an “increasing West Nile Virus (WNV) activity” in the city which was detected by the Chesapeake Mosquito Control Commission.
Chesapeake Mosquito Control Director Lisa Wagenbrenner says mosquitoes have been testing positive for the disease at a “higher than normal rate” this summer.
“Sporadic thunderstorms and human activities such as watering lawns and washing cars have perpetuated mosquito breeding habitats,” said Wagenbrenner.
Chesapeake health officials are now urging residents to take precautions to protect themselves and their families as recent rains lead to more mosquitoes.
Chesapeake isn’t the first city in Hampton Roads to report WNV activity. Just days before, the Norfolk Department of Public Health announced that the virus has been detected in two mosquito samples in the city.
The West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. WNV can affect a person’s nervous system. Many people get a mild form, experiencing fever, headache, and muscle aches that can last days to weeks.
While most people make a full recovery, severe cases of WNV can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis, and even death. Health officials say recovery from severe WNV can take months or years.
People at highest risk for serious WNV disease are adults 50-years-old or older and those whose immunity is suppressed because of a disease such as cancer or diabetes.
The VDH issues several guidelines to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses:
- Avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellents when outdoors in mosquito-infested areas. Always ensure that you follow directions on the label.
- Wear clothing that is long, light, and loose.
- Home doors and windows should be well screened to prevent entry of mosquitoes.
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites from yards by removing old tires, buckets, tubs, toys and other items that hold rainwater. Dump ornamental containers (e.g., bird baths) on a weekly basis, or use mosquito larvicide pellets or dunks periodically to treat larger containers (e.g., ornamental ponds, stagnant swimming pools).
- Clean roof gutters and downspout screens.