West Nile virus now a health concern nationwide

(Fredericksburg, Virginia) – West Nile virus and other public health threats have become an issue in Virginia and across the United States in recent years. Citizens are asking what they can do to protect themselves, even in their own backyards.

To help address these concerns, ProTech Pest Control based in Springfield, has developed a website to provide consumers with information about management and control of mosquito populations.

“West Nile virus poses a significant threat to human health,” says Jim Selnow, Vice President of ProTech. “We’ve decided to offer mosquito prevention and control information to help people safeguard themselves and their families.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Nile virus has now been identified in nearly every state in the continental U.S. CDC statistics show that the death toll from West Nile was more than 30 people in the U.S. during 2010, with over 650 human cases reported. In 2007, 44 human deaths attributable to WNV were reported.

“West Nile virus moved across the country, probably much more rapidly than people thought it would,” said Selnow. “It caught many people, including public health officials, somewhat off-guard. We are now better prepared to deal with this situation in a proactive manner.”

Humans can contract the encephalitis form of the disease when bitten by mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus. Mosquitoes contract the virus when they feed on infected birds, which may circulate the virus in their blood for several days.

Migratory birds appear to be the most common factor in the spread of West Nile virus. Nonmigratory birds, like crows and bluejays, are often killed by the infection, but infected migratory species often survive. Horses also are highly susceptible to West Nile virus, and horse owners are encouraged to vaccinate for several types of equine encephalitis. As yet, no vaccine is available for humans.

Other animals that may become infected include cats, dogs, bats and rabbits. In addition, West Nile virus has been identified in penguins and other exotic species, often in zoos.

HOW CONSUMERS CAN HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF MOSQUITO BORNE ILLNESSES

* Contact a local Pest Management Professional. They can help homeowners reduce their exposure to mosquito bites by inspecting properties for breeding sites, treating to control mosquitoes in some cases or suggesting corrective actions, and educating homeowners and businesses about mosquitoes.

WHAT CONSUMERS CAN DO NOW

* Eliminate or reduce mosquito-breeding areas by replacing all standing water at least once per week. This includes birdbaths, ponds and unfiltered pools.
* Remove unneeded vegetation or trash from around any standing water sources that cannot be changed, dumped or removed.
* Introduce mosquito-eating fish such as gambusia, green sunfish, bluefish and minnows to standing water.
* Seal and screen all windows, doors, and other openings.
* Avoid going outdoors when and where mosquitoes are most active: during dusk or dawn.
* Use insect repellent on exposed skin whenever or wherever mosquitoes are likely to bite. The most effective repellents currently available contain the active ingredient DEET in concentrations up to about 35% (greater concentrations don’t offer better protection).
* Wear long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants preferably treated with repellant as well.

For more information on pest management, contact ProTech Pest Control at 703-440-8000 or visit the ProTech Pest Control website.

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ProTech Pest Control is a professional pest management organization serving the following areas:

Springfield Branch: City of Alexandria, City of Fairfax, City of Falls Church, Arlington County, Fairfax County

Fredericksburg Branch: Caroline County, Culpeper County, Fauquier County, King George County, Louisa County, Orange County, Prince William County, Rappahannock County, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County

Winchester/Leesburg Branch: City of Leesburg, City of Winchester, Clarke County, Frederick County, VA, Loudoun County, Shenandoah County, Warren County, Berkeley Springs, WV, Charles Town, WV, Martinsburg, WV, Berkeley County, WV, Jefferson County, WV, Morgan County, WV

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