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To curb West Nile, cut breeding sites

September 24, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

With a growing number of confirmed cases in the Tri-State area, including two possible human cases in Washington and Frederick counties, West Nile virus should be a cause for concern for all in the region, particularly those with weakened immune systems. It's time to eliminate the areas where mosquitoes breed.

The virus is spread by the winged pests and its symptoms can resemble the flu, with fever, headache confusion and muscle pain. More serious cases can be fatal. Animals all over the region, including horses and birds, have tested positive for the virus.

Those counting on winter's cold to control the threat shouldn't get complacent when the temperature dips, health officials say. Mosquitoes have been known to survive the coldest part of the year in basements and abandoned buildings.

So what can be done? In your home, fix damaged screens and close off other openings that would allow them entry.

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In your yard, eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed, whether it's puddles, ruts in the driveway or worn-out automobile tires.

To assist residents, Washington County officials are holding Tire Amnesty Day on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. On that day county residents with proper identification can turn in up to six tires at the Forty-West Landfill, North, South and Williamsport high schools and at the Washington County Roads Department shops in Keedysville, Greensburg and Indian Springs.

What else can be done? Avoid the outdoors at dusk when mosquitoes are most active and wear repellent and protective clothing. Officials at the Center for Disease Control advise applying a repellent containing DEET, because mosquitoes can bite even through thin clothing.

Because there is no vaccination for the disease for humans, it makes sense for those over 50 to exercise caution, for they're the most frequently infected. Until a vaccine for humans is developed - there's already one for horses - common sense and regular medical check-ups are the best way to prevent problems.

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