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West Nile Virus Alert
The Mecklenburg County Health Department is warning residents that we are entering a period of high activity for certain agressive mosquitoes.

August 10, 2004

Charlotte, NC - The 2004 mosquito season has been a quiet one - so far.  Call volume has been dramatically lower than last year, as has the number of mosquitoes caught in traps set across the county according to Dennis Salmen, program chief for the Mecklenburg County Health Department’s Public Health Pest Management Program.

But Salmen warns this season is far from over.  “We’re just now entering the high active time for the Asian Tiger mosquito,” he says. 

The Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is a very aggressive biter with peaks generally occurring during the early morning and late afternoon. It feeds on a number of hosts including people, domestic and wild animals and birds. Salmen describes the Asian Tiger as a “backyard breeder,” meaning people help provide it habitat by leaving standing water in buckets, old tires, bird baths or other containers.

“If we get a little rain this time of year,” says Salmen, “expect the mosquito population to spike about seven to 10 days later.”

Health officials in Long Beach, California are reporting the state’s third death from West Nile virus this year. This would be the eighth death in 2004 in the United States. According to the most recent statistics available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human disease cases of West Nile have been reported in 20 states so far this year. The virus has been found in animals, birds or mosquito populations in another 19 states, including North and South Carolina.

Environmental Health specialists are currently observing or treating the approximately 1300 sites around Mecklenburg County known to harbor standing water, which could be potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It has been established that West Nile virus is present in some local bird populations. This year, the Health Department will concentrate efforts on collecting and testing mosquitoes for the virus.

The best protection against West Nile and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to avoid and prevent 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 when outdoors
  • Eliminate standing water sources that may be potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes
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Media Contact:
D.C. Lucchesi

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