Mosquito-borne disease now more widespread

Published 9:24 pm Thursday, July 2, 2009

More locations throughout Suffolk have produced mosquitoes that tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the city announced Thursday.

The areas of Pleasant Hill, Regency Estates, Sleepy Hole Park, Lake Kennedy, Woodlands of Nansemond, Driver, Boston, Kilby Shores and Cove Point are the most recently identified neighborhoods with mosquitoes that tested positive, said city spokeswoman Debbie George.

In addition, the areas of Jericho Ditch, Hosier Road, Freeney Avenue, Suburban Woods, Wonderland Forest, Chuckatuck and Rivercliff were identified earlier in the week as having mosquitoes that tested positive for the disease. The reports indicate that almost no area of the city is free of disease-bearing mosquitoes.

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.

Although no humans or horses have been diagnosed with the disease in Suffolk this year, the city’s mosquito control division is warning residents to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

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.