Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Virginia Beach to wage war on mosquitoes, potential Zika carriers

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Virginia Beach is beginning to worry about the swarms of visitors sure to arrive with summer, many of which might be carrying illnesses.

The city’s Mosquito Control Bureau, which is park of the Public Works Department, has begun its seasonal fight against the insects. It hopes to prevent the spread of any mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, Chikungunya virus, malaria – and new this year – the Zika virus.

No local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there have been travel-associated cases, and with the recent outbreaks elsewhere, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the U.S. will likely increase, according to the CDC. Those imported case could result in local spread of the virus in some areas, it said.

Efforts in Virginia Beach include treating known breeding grounds and hang-out spots, according to a release. The unwelcome Beach-goers are the Aedes species mosquito, specifically the Asian Tiger, which is most active in the day.

“Although most people will have mild or no symptoms if they contract these diseases, some individuals can become very ill and have long-term side effects,” said Dr. Heidi Kulberg, the city’s public health director, in the release.

Kulberg will brief the City Council on Zika prevention Tuesday, along with Jennifer Pierce from the Mosquito Control Bureau.

Learn more about the Zika virus from Virginia Department of Health.

The bureau typically deploys pesticides on as much as 700,000 acres city-wide in late-stage attempts to kill adult mosquitoes each year, according to the release. The department, however, prefers to attack earlier in the bugs’ life-cycles.

Crews typically treat about 1,000 acres of standing water — where the insects hatch and breed — each summer, hoping to kill the blood-suckers when they’re young and before they can bite. They also encourage residents to “tip and toss” standing water on their property every week. Mosquitoes need about seven days to breed in still water.

Public Works offered these tips for preventing mosquito growth and bites:

  • Turn over or remove containers in your yard where rainwater collects.
  • Empty bird baths weekly.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspout screens.
  • Eliminate standing water on flat roofs, boats, tarps and old tires.
  • Clear obstructions in ditches so they flow and drain. Fill in puddles with soil or drain them.
  • If puddles or ditches cannot be drained or filled in, treat standing water with mosquito larvicides (dunks or granules) that can be purchased at hardware stores.
  • Wear long, loose, light-colored clothing, long sleeves and a hat.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent and follow label instructions.

To request services from the Mosquito Control Bureau call 757.385.1470.

You can find more info on mosquito control, prevention steps, disease on the Virginia Department of Health’s website.

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