First cases of West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis detected in Hampton Roads mosquitoes

SUFFOLK, Va. – The first cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been detected in mosquitoes in Hampton Roads, the City of Suffolk said Wednesday.

Mosquitoes that were collected in the Riverview, North Street and Dumville Lane areas of Suffolk tested positive for WNV, while mosquitoes collected in Cove Point and the Lamb Avenue tested positive for EEE.

The city is warning the public to be aware of the increased activity of these viruses when going outside.

Those infected with WNV may show severe symptoms, mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Statistics say 80 percent (or 4 out of 5) people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms. Up to 20 percent of the people who show mild symptoms will have flu-like symptoms and may sometimes experience swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. In the most severe cases (about 1 out of 150), people will develop a severe illness that can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

EEE is a very rare disease that affects only 5-10 humans annually in the U.S. Infection in humans begins with mild flu-like symptoms that progress into disorientation, seizures, coma, encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and in most severe cases, death. Many people who survive will have mild to severe brain damage.

No human cases of EEE have ever been reported in the City of Suffolk. Within the city, horses are commonly found with the disease.

The city says Mosquito Control Operations are ramping up their efforts in the aforementioned areas due to these positive test confirmations. Increased mosquito surveillance, treatment of standing water and evening spray applications for adult mosquitoes are also being administered.

Officials have provided the following precautions you can take to decrease your chances of contracting WNV and EEE:

  • Remain indoors during times of greatest mosquito activity
    • (1 hour before dusk to 1 hour before dawn)
  • Wear loose, long, and light-colored clothing when outdoors
  • Use insect repellants containing DEET according to the label instructions.

You can also help Mosquito Control Operations by eliminating mosquito-breeding areas around your home and neighborhood by doing the following:

  • Empty water-holding containers:
    • buckets, drums, bottles, tin cans, wheel barrows, potted plant trays, etc.
  • Properly dispose of used tires.
  • Clear roof gutters, downspouts and corrugated black drainpipes for any water collection.
  • Clean wading and swimming pools.
  • Drain water from tarps.
  • Place Mosquito Dunks in stagnant water areas around your home which include ditches and low lying areas.

Free Mosquito Dunks are available to Suffolk residents at the following locations:

  • Suffolk Fire & Rescue Stations 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  • the Media & Community Relations Department at City Hall
  • the Whaleyville Community Center
  • the East Suffolk Recreation Center and
  • all three Suffolk Public Libraries.

To get a free Mosquito Dunk, you must be 18 years or older, have proof of residence in the City of Suffolk, show proper picture identification and sign the information sheet at the pick-up location.

More information on WNV and EEE can be find here and here.