The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health (BPH), are gearing up for another season of mosquitoes and the potential return of West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis.

Tests have found the West Nile virus in some mosquitoes in the Mid-Ohio Valley region, according to the health department.

West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis cases occur primarily in the summer and fall, so the time to take action is now. "You can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood by emptying standing or stagnant water from cans, bottles, old tires, wading pools, flower pots, and other containers," said Jessica Woods, Interim Regional Epidemiologist.

"You can also clean out clogged gutters and drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats. In addition, make sure that all windows have proper screens to help keep mosquitoes out of your home."

Mosquito populations can be reduced or eliminated by removing all potential places for standing water - bird baths, pet bowls, tires, pots, cans or even bottle caps. There is no container too small when it comes to potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus.

West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis may be spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. They cannot be spread from casual human to human contact. Symptoms from the virus include fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, confusion, weakness, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck.

When outdoors during mosquito season, people can protect themselves by being properly clothed in long, loose and light colored clothing and by using mosquito repellants. Mosquito repellants should always be used according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

This year BPH will continue to monitor West Nile activity with dead bird, horse, and limited mosquito surveillance. Persons who see a dead bird should contact their local health department. Birds are tested for West Nile and other mosquito-borne diseases through the West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services.

For more information contact Jessica Woods at 304-485-7374 or the Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 1-304-558-5358 ext. 1, 1-800-432-1271, or go to http://www.dide.wv.gov

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