Take simple steps to fight mosquitoes

Published 8:32 pm Friday, July 24, 2015

Mosquitoes in Suffolk represent more than just an irritation, though plenty of folks in the city can attest to the fact that Suffolk seems to have more than its share of the pests this time of year.

Suffolk mosquitoes have tested positive for two different rare but potentially deadly diseases recently, and city officials are working to make sure folks know about the risks of exposure and how to minimize those risks.

West Nile Virus was found in a mosquito pool in the Kilby Shores area, according to a city press release this week. Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus has been detected in mosquito pools and a sentinel chicken flock from several neighborhoods, including Clay Hill, Kilby Shores, Hosier Road, Olde Mill Creek, Regency Estates, Rivercliff, Dayle Acres, Pughsville and Riverfront.

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The appearance of West Nile Virus is particularly worrisome because of its potential for harm in humans, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the likelihood of an infection becoming fatal at less than 1 percent.

In fact, most people — four out of five — who are infected with the disease will experience no symptoms. Those who become symptomatic are likely to experience fevers, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile Virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Severe symptoms in a few people can potentially result in a serious neurological illness that can lead to death, especially among older people or those with other medical problems.

As the name suggests, the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus is especially problematic for horses, which are commonly found with the virus in Suffolk. Fortunately, there are vaccines that can be administered to keep horses safe during mosquito season.

No human cases of the disease have ever been reported in Suffolk, and the CDC reports that only a few human cases are reported every year, which is a good thing, as the disease has a high mortality rate among humans who contract it.

Fortunately for folks in Suffolk, both diseases are rare in humans. Even more fortunate is the fact that the slight risk of contracting them can be easily reduced by taking a few simple steps to minimize one’s contact with mosquitoes. Following are some suggestions from city officials:

  • Empty outdoor water-holding containers — buckets, drums, bottles, tin cans, wheelbarrows, potted plant trays, and so on.
  • Properly dispose of used tires.
  • Clear roof gutters, downspouts and corrugated black drainpipes for any 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.

Wherever you live in Suffolk, take the simple steps you can to limit the areas where mosquitoes can reproduce in your yard. Your family and your neighbors will appreciate it.