WASHINGTON – A warning: If you’re outside, you’re at risk.
The mosquitoes are bad this summer across the D.C. region, thanks to a warm winter and early spring, and now they’re even more dangerous.
Health officials are issuing a warning after the West Nile virus has been found in the area. The Prince William County Health Department says mosquitoes collected this month have tested positive for the virus.
About 80 percent of people who are infected with the virus will not have any symptoms and won’t know they’ve been infected. But the more severe forms of the illness can be life-threatening.
One in 150 people will develop serious symptoms from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And health officials say people over age 50 are at greater risk of developing meningitis or encephalitis.
Residents can take steps to protect themselves and help control the spread of the virus in their own backyards. Health officials say look for potential mosquito breeding grounds around the house, dump any standing water found in things like buckets, toys and potted plant trays, use insect repellent products with DEET and wear long, loose and light-colored clothing.
Antibiotics will not help with the virus because the illness is not caused by bacteria. Symptoms typically develop between three to 14 days after being bitten by a mosquito, with milder ones including fever and flu-like symptoms.