Mosquitoes in Suffolk neighborhoods test positive for West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Posted at 6:34 PM, Aug 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 18:34:45-04

SUFFOLK, Va. – The City of Suffolk announced Friday that it has detected West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis in mosquitoes collected from a handful of local areas and neighborhoods.

The mosquitoes were found in the following areas:

West Nile Virus

  • Bennett’s Harbor
  • Lakeside
  • North Street
  • Philadelphia
  • Pleasant Hill
  • Suburban Woods
  • West Jericho

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

  • Clay Hill Area
  • Lake Kennedy
  • Lamb Avenue Area
  • Suburban Woods

Citizens should be aware that there is increased WNV and EEE activity in these areas and are advised to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves while engaging in outdoor activities.

WNV infected individuals can show no symptoms, mild symptoms, or severe symptoms.  Medical statistics say 80% of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all. Up to 20% of the people who exhibit mild symptoms of WNV have flu-like symptoms and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.

In the most severe cases (1 of 150) of WNV, people will develop severe illness, which can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

EEE is a very rare human disease that affects 5 to 10 humans annually in the United States. EEE infection in humans begins with mild flu-like symptoms, progresses into disorientation, seizures, coma, encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and in the most severe cases, people die. Many who survive are reported to have mild to severe brain damage.

No human cases of EEE have ever been reported in Suffolk, officials say.

Horses are commonly found with EEE the city. Mosquito Control urges horse owners to vaccinate their horses for EEE and any other insect-transmitted diseases that could affect their animals.  Properly-timed and administrated vaccinations by a licensed veterinarian can mean a healthy horse during the mosquito season.

Mosquito Control Operations are intensifying their efforts in these areas as a result of these positive test confirmations. Increased mosquito surveillance, treatment of standing water, and spraying for adult mosquitoes are also being administered.

Related: Higher heat and humidity create ideal conditions for mosquitoes

You can greatly decrease your chances of contracting WNV and EEE by protecting yourself from excessive mosquito bites while outdoors by following these recommendations:

  • Remain indoors during times of greatest mosquito activity
    • (1 hour before dusk to 1 hour before dawn)
  • Wear loose, long, and light-colored clothing when outdoors
  • Use insect repellants containing DEET according to the label instructions.

You can contribute to these efforts by eliminating mosquito-breeding areas around your home and neighborhood by following these steps:

  • Empty water-holding containers:
    • buckets, drums, bottles, tin cans, wheel barrows, potted plant trays, etc.
  • 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 which include ditches and low lying areas

Placing Mosquito Dunks in stagnant water habitats is a common practice used to eliminate mosquito larvae.

Free Mosquito Dunks are available to Suffolk citizens at your local fire stations, the Department of Media & Community Relations office in City Hall, Whaleyville Recreation Center, East Suffolk Recreation Center, and all Suffolk Public Libraries.

In order to get your free Mosquito Dunks, you must be 18 years of age or older, have proof of residence in the City of Suffolk, proper picture identification and sign the “Information Sheet” at the location of pick-up.

For more information about WNV and EEE, visit the Virginia Department of Health‘s website or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website.