Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus found in Norfolk

NORFOLK — The city’s Department of Public Health has detected the first positive tests for Eastern Equine Encephalitis in sentinel chickens and nine mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus in the city.

The Eastern Equine Encephalitis sample was collected near the 1000 block of Indian River Road. The Vector Control Division dispatched crews to those areas and fogged Berkeley/Campostella neighborhoods, according to a news release from the city.

Officials said “mosquito control and surveillance measures will continue in those neighborhoods.”

Pools of mosquito collected from the Fairmont Park, Lafayette Shores, Norfolk Industrial Park and Edgewater areas have all yielded positive results for West Nile virus.

Vector Control has already fogged some of those areas. Fogging will continue this week and next week, weather permitting, along with storm drain treatments, larviciding and backyard inspections, officials said.

“Norfolk residents especially persons over age 50, should take action to prevent and protect themselves and their families from mosquito-borne illnesses such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus, which is spread to birds, humans, horses, and other mammals through the bite of an infected mosquito,” said Norman Grefe, environmental health manager.

Most people bitten do not get sick. People who do, usually suffer a mild flu-like illness. Those over age 50 are at greatest risk of serious illness, such as encephalitis (e.g., inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (e.g., inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).

The Virginia Department of Health recommends the following tips to reduce exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing.
  • If possible, limit outdoor exposure between dusk and dawn.
  • Check window and door screens to ensure that mosquitoes cannot enter your home.
  • Use insect repellants with DEET according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Turn over or remove containers in your yard where water collects, such as old tires, potted plant trays, buckets and toys.
  • Eliminate standing water on tarps or flat roofs.
  • Clean out birdbaths, wading pools and swimming pools.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspout screens.

Norfolk Department of Public Health maintains a mosquito hotline for residents by calling 757-683-2914, option #4.

For information about mosquito control and surveillance measures, call the Vector Control Division at 757-683-2840, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.