Mosquito-borne virus found in Suffolk

Published 11:07 pm Monday, June 29, 2009

Mosquitoes and chickens in Suffolk have tested positive recently for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, prompting more stringent mosquito control efforts by the city.

Mosquito collections in the areas of Jericho Ditch, Hosier Road, Freeney Avenue, Suburban Woods, Wonderland Forest, Chuckatuck and Rivercliff have tested positive of the virus, according to a city news release.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a mosquito-borne disease that, although rare in humans, can cause illness ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to inflammation of the brain, coma or death.

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Although no humans or horses have been diagnosed with the disease in Suffolk this year, the city’s mosquito control division is ramping up its efforts to control the number of mosquitoes in the city.

“We are increasing our adulticide applications,” said Charles Abadam, superintendent of mosquito control for the city. The chemical that kills adult mosquitoes is sprayed from a machine mounted on a truck that drives the roads in the affected areas after dark, Abadam said.

Suffolk residents can protect themselves against mosquito bites by heeding the following advice:

Remain indoors during times of greatest mosquito activity (one hour before dusk to one hour before dawn).

Wear loose, long and light-colored clothing when outdoors.

Use insect repellants containing the DEET chemical according to the label instructions.

You can also help eliminate mosquito-breeding areas in the city by following these steps:

Empty water-holding containers — buckets, drums, bottles, tin cans, wheelbarrows, potted plant trays, tires and the like.

Properly dispose of used tires.

Clear roof gutters, downspouts and corrugated black drainpipes of any blockages that can lead to water collection.

Clean wading and swimming pools.

Drain water from tarps.

Place mosquito dunks in stagnant water areas around your home, including ditches and low-lying areas.

Mosquito dunks can be obtained from any fire station or from the municipal center, 441 Market St. To get free mosquito dunks, you must be 18 years old or older, have proof of residence in Suffolk, proper picture identification and sign the information sheet at the station.

For more information, call 514-7609.