August 1, 2002
HEALTH DEPARTMENT STRESSES PRECAUTIONS
AFTER YEAR’S FIRST DEATH FROM MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASE
Charlotte, NC – Dry weather alone isn’t enough to guarantee we’ll see a summer with fewer mosquitoes, or that there will be no other confirmed cases of mosquito-borne illness found in Mecklenburg County.
Dennis Salmen, chief for the Mecklenburg County Health Department’s public health pest management program, says that August is traditionally when his staff receives the most calls. “August is when we typically get more rain,” says Salmen. “It’s also when the Asian Tiger mosquito is most active.” Salmen says the Asian Tiger is the mosquito seen most in this area.
Monitoring potential mosquito breeding grounds on your property and taking personal precautions to limit your exposure to mosquitoes is of particular significance with the news of this year’s first death resulting from a mosquito-borne illness. Louisiana health department officials confirmed that a 70-year-old woman has died from West Nile virus. Eighteen other people have died from West Nile in the United States since 1999. Since then, the virus has been detected in 34 states—including North Carolina, and the District of Columbia. Mecklenburg County’s first case of West Nile in 2002 was confirmed in June in a blue jay carcass collected in the South Park area.
Young children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems are at highest risk of developing complications from West Nile virus. West Nile’s flu-like symptoms can eventually lead to encephalitis, a potentially deadly disease in humans. Mosquitoes that feed on infected birds can spread West Nile to people.
The Health Department reminds residents to keep outdoor water containers like buckets, old tires or animal drinking bowls emptied or full of fresh water in order to keep mosquitoes from breeding in them. Residents should wear long sleeves, long pants and mosquito repellants containing DEET when outdoors, especially those in high-risk groups.
For more information about protecting yourself and eliminating mosquito-breeding areas on your property, log onto the Health Department’s Web site
http://www.meckhealth.org. Look for the “Skeeter Defeater” logo.
To report mosquito problems, call 704-336-5101. To report dead birds call 704-353-0350.