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Stop mosquitos in their tracks

EDITORIAL

West Nile. Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Chikungnya. Zika.

Perhaps these four viruses don’t carry the historical baggage — yet — of, for instance, malaria. But they are nonetheless potentially deadly and, in the case of the Zika virus, especially, frightening reminders of the potential dangers of a simple mosquito bite.

Although the Zika virus has not yet shown up in Suffolk, both West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been found in mosquito pools within the city. Lake Kennedy, Lamb Avenue, Portsmouth Boulevard commuter lot, Burnett’s Mill, Rivercliff, Dayle Acres and Pughsville areas of Suffolk all have tested positive for one or both viruses, officials stated in a press release.

A horse in the western part of the city near the Isle of Wight border tested positive for EEE on June 22 and had to be euthanized on June 23.

In response, the city has stepped up its mosquito-spraying efforts, and officials are warning horse owners to have their animals vaccinated. EEE has a mortality rate of 80 to 90 percent in horses, so vaccinations are the most important measure against the disease.

Suffolk officials are also asking residents for their help in the effort, suggesting the following steps for limiting the places where disease-carrying mosquitos might survive:

  • Empty water-holding containers such as 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.
  • 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.

Free Mosquito Dunks are available, with some restrictions, from a variety of locations around Suffolk, including most fire stations, City Hall, the city’s libraries and the East Suffolk and Whaleyville recreation centers.

For more information, call Suffolk Mosquito Control at 514-7609.

Take the proper steps to protect yourself and your neighbors. A city with as much low-lying area as Suffolk can never rid itself of mosquitos, but every larvae that fails to hatch is one less opportunity for disease to spread.