Washington area readies for mosquito season

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Spring is finally here and the Washington area has already had some summer-like days. Now is the time to gear up for mosquito season. So what kind of a season can residents expect?

While some places have already begun their mosquito control program, others like the City of Alexandria are bringing on seasonal employees and are getting ready.

Daniel Sherwood is an environmental health biologist with the city. He says the seasonal employees will start in May, when they will begin checking for mosquito larvae.

“(We will be) trying to find the areas for treatment that we anticipate are going to be a problem this year,” he says.

Currently, Sherwood says the Alexandria area is looking at a normal or average mosquito season.

“So far we’ve had a pretty mild year,” he says. “We had a relatively cold winter which helps.”

He admits it is hard to predict the new mosquito season because things can change and there are a lot of factors. But West Nile continues to be a big concern in our area.

Sherwood says the larger vector-borne illness programs are starting to look at their data that spans over a 10-year period. Hopefully by studying the data, it will give scientists a clearer understanding of how to better predict when West Nile is going to be a big problem in an area. A vector is any insect or arthropod, like a mosquito or tick, that can transmit a disease while they are feeding on a host.

For 2012, the Centers for Disease Control reports there were 5,387 cases of West Nile Virus nationwide, with 243 deaths. Twenty-nine cases were in Virginia, where there were three deaths. Mosquitoes did test positive for West Nile in Prince William County in June 2012.

The Asian tiger mosquito is a persistent biter and is one of the most common mosquitoes in Virginia. But it is the Culex mosquito that carries the West Nile virus, and those with standing water around their homes should get rid of it to decrease their risk of contracting the virus.

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