Friday, December 8, 2023

West Nile Virus Identified in Local Mosquitos

York County is offering free mosquito dunks to local residents in order to decrease the insect’s population and reduce the risk of diseases, such as West Nile Virus, from spreading. (Photo by Jimmy Chan from Pexels)

YORK COUNTY — The York County Mosquito Control Division (YCMCD) has announced that local mosquitos have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Each year between late spring into early fall is considered the most active season for mosquitos. The YCMCD routinely conducts tests of local mosquitos in order to garner information regarding mosquito-borne illnesses that could threaten the local population, including West Nile Virus. Recent testing in Lower York County has shown positive results for the virus.

As of yet, the YCMCD is unaware of active cases of the virus in county residents.

What is West Nile Virus?

West Nile Virus was first identified in the West Nile region of Africa and was established in the United States in 1999.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) states that it is generally transmitted through infected mosquitos that become so after feeding off of infected birds. The disease is then transmitted to humans and animals through bite.

Of the sixty species of mosquitos in Virginia, VDH has identified only five that are thought to transmit West Nile Virus. Most prevalent of the species is the northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens). VDH reports that the infection rate among northern house mosquitos could be as high as 5 percent.

What are the Symptoms of West Nile Virus?

There are a variety of symptoms associated with West Nile Virus. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 80 percent of those who are infected with West Nile Virus will not exhibit any symptoms.

Of those who are infected, 1 in 5 may develop the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue/weakness

Serious symptoms are estimated to occur in 1 in 150 of those infected. Severe illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis, could effect the central nervous system. The CDC lists the follow for severe cases:

    • Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
    • Severe illness can occur in people of any age; however, people over 60 years of age are at greater risk for severe illness if they are infected (1 in 50 people). People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk.
    • Recovery from severe illness might take several weeks or months. Some effects to the central nervous system might be permanent.
    • About 1 out of 10 people who develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system die.

What Is the Treatment for West Nile Virus?

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is very important to seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider will be able to conduct tests for the West Nile Virus infection.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to help with aches and pains as well as fever reduction. In more severe cases, patients can be hospitalized.

At this time, there is no vaccine for West Nile Virus.

How Can I Prevent West Nile Virus?

There are many ways to reduce the risk of West Nile Virus in both the home and community. YCMCD conducts routine spraying throughout the county. County residents can sign up for alerts by clicking here and following the instructions.

Additionally, the department is giving out free “mosquito dunks” to residents. These “dunks” are an all-natural product that contains a bacteria that mosquito larva ingest, killing the insect. YCMCD says that these dunks are harmless to other animals.

York County residents can pick up these free dunks and one of the following locations:

VDH advises that residents of the follow precautions to take in order to help prevent the spread of West Nile Virus:

  • Make sure that home doors and windows are properly sealed and screened
  • Eliminate potential breeding grounds that may hold standing water such as buckets, tubs, toys, and old tires
  • Dump ornamental displays, such as bird baths, regularly
  • Use larvicide dunks or pellets in larger water holding containers, such as pools.

To reduce risk of being bitten by a mosquito, the CDC recommends the following protections:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellent including:
    • DEET
    • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
    • IR3535
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
    • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
    • 2-undecanone
  • Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting
  • Wear clothing that covers exposed skin
  • Treat your clothing with Permethrin, a product that is an insecticide that kills and repels mosquitos. To learn more about Permethrin, watch the video below, courtesy of the CDC:


Visit the website for YCMCD for more information.



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