August 29, 2003
HEALTH DEPARTMENT TO FOCUS ON MOSQUITOES
FOR WEST NILE VIRUS TESTING
Charlotte, NC - Having established the presence of West Nile virus in the local bird population, the Mecklenburg County Health Department will now intensify collection and testing of mosquitoes. These test results will be used to direct mosquito control efforts for the remainder of the summer.
This effectively ends the Department's collection and testing of dead birds for West Nile virus for 2003. Ending collection of dead birds now will also speed the Department's response to consumer complaints about mosquitoes. Most North Carolina counties ended testing earlier due to the State Health Department's policy of discontinuing testing once a West Nile positive bird was found in a county.
Dennis Salmen, manager for the Department's Public Health Pest Management Program, says that collection and testing in Mecklenburg continued in order to have viable data to support the belief that the virus was still present in bird populations after last year's mosquito season. "Having positive test results on six birds collected in different County zip codes confirms that hypothesis," says Salmen. The Health Department is still awaiting test results from more than 30 birds.
Salmen says he hopes to send at least 20 mosquito pools per week for testing. Sites for trapping mosquitoes will be based on the volume of consumer complaints and the location of birds testing positive for West Nile.
The best protection from West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis or other mosquito-borne diseases continues to be protecting yourself from mosquito bites.
To do so:
· Stay inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
· Use repellants containing DEET and follow directions closely.
· Wear long sleeves and long pants.
· Eliminate standing water sources that may be potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
For questions or complaints about mosquitoes, Mecklenburg County residents may call the Health Department's Public Health Pest Management Program at 704-336-5101.