West Nile Virus
Rappahannock Area Health District Focuses on Education, Surveillance
Together with the Rappahannock Area West Nile Virus Taskforce, the Rappahannock Area Health District is working to prevent West Nile Virus in 2006. Spotsylvania County participates as a member of this Taskforce. You should be aware of the potential threat West Nile Virus (WNV) poses to our community, and of how to protect yourself.
The Rappahannock Area 2006 West Nile Virus response plan has been underway for several weeks as Jennifer Gron, West Nile Virus environmental health specialist for the Rappahannock Area Health District, conducts larval surveillance throughout the area and educates the public about West Nile Virus. The 2006 response plan has streamlined the surveillance program to more effectively allocate resources. Dead birds will not be collected this summer by the health department so that more time can be spent surveying the resident mosquito populations for West Nile Virus.
Gron will canvas all of Planning District 16 (Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties and Fredericksburg City) with larval and adult mosquito surveillance in the coming months. This type of research allows problem areas to be targeted quickly and effectively. Should West Nile Virus be discovered in a mosquito population, Gron will collaborate with the property owner or the appropriate governmental agency to protect the public health.
There are many actions individuals can take to prevent West Nile Virus from occurring in their community as well as to protect themselves and their families. The theme and focus of the Regional West Nile Virus Taskforce is: "Flip it! Dump it! Kick it!" Mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus breed in containers that hold water for any length of time, so be sure to:
- Eliminate any standing water on your property or in your neighborhood. Common offenders include:
- Buckets, toys
- Clogged gutters
- Pool covers
- Wading pools
- Wheel barrows
- Potted plant trays
- Work with your neighbors to clean up the neighborhood and protect the public health.
- Patch or replace any ripped or holey screens in windows and doors.
- Wear long, loose, light-colored clothing to prevent mosquito bites.
- Wear DEET©-based mosquito repellants on top of clothing and on exposed skin.
- Avoid times outdoors when mosquitoes are active.
- Educate yourself and others to prevent the spread of the disease.
West Nile Virus is carried by mosquitoes and can be transmitted to humans, horses and birds through a bite. Key facts to keep in mind are:
- West Nile Virus most negatively affects people over the age of 55.
- West Nile Virus symptoms include headache, fever, swollen glands, and limb paralysis in association with mosquito bite exposure.
- There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile Virus, only intensive treatments.