Maryland Residents are Reminded to Eliminate Standing Water and Protect Themselves against Mosquito Bites
ANNAPOLIS (September 18, 2007) - The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) today announced the first state detection of a West Nile virus (WNV) mosquito pool in Maryland in 2007. State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) laboratory results completed yesterday confirmed the presence of WNV in mosquitoes collected on August 27 in the Cottage City area of Prince George's County. The U.S. Department of Defense has also recently collected WNV positive mosquitoes in Montgomery County.
Mosquito vectors of WNV have generally been in low number during 2007 due to the extended drought. This is the first WNV-positive collection by MDA personnel for 2007. The average number of WNV-positive mosquito collections over the past four years is 44, with a high of 115 recorded in 2003.
"We know that West Nile virus may be present throughout Maryland and are not surprised to find mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus," says Secretary of Agriculture Roger Richardson. "The confirmation of virus-positive mosquitoes serves as a reminder to all residents to continue protecting themselves against mosquito bites and to conduct backyard mosquito control activities."
The MDA mosquito control office, in cooperation with DHMH, is conducting state-wide surveillance activities to monitor mosquito populations and detect mosquito-borne viruses of public health concern. Surveillance activities for adult mosquitoes use traps and landing rate counts. Mosquito control activities conducted by MDA include larviciding and spray programs for adult mosquitoes in communities that voluntarily participate in the agency's program. Additional mosquito-borne disease surveillance is conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense on military installations in Maryland.
"Mosquito control remains especially important to decrease the risk of infection with all mosquito borne diseases," said Cy Lesser, MDA chief of mosquito control. "MDA is taking appropriate steps for mosquito surveillance and mosquito control activities in Prince George's County and other participating Maryland jurisdictions through the end of September."
Most mosquitoes do not pose a threat to public health because they are not infected with viruses or other pathogens. Less than one percent of people bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus will become ill. People most at risk for developing symptoms of the disease are those over 50 and those with already compromised immune systems; however, all residents should continue to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites. These measures include:
. Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active;
. Wear insect repellents, according to product labels, especially if you will be outside between the hours of dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
. Wear long sleeves and long pants to help avoid mosquito bites. Avoid mosquito infested areas.
. Install and inspect window and door screens in homes and stables and repair any holes found.
. Remove standing water from flower pots, tarps, trash receptacles, and other containers;
. Vaccinate horses, mules, donkeys and ratites according to your veterinarian's advice.
. Flush pet food and water bowls and bird baths regularly; and,
. Remove unnecessary water-holding containers.
There is neither a specific treatment nor a vaccine against WNV for humans. There are, however, effective vaccines against the virus for horses, ostriches and emusBalso known as ratitesBand owners are encouraged to get their animals vaccinated and boostered in a timely manner in consultation with their veterinarian.
Dog owners are also urged to have their pets checked for heartworms, the most common disease transmitted by mosquitoes in Maryland. Dogs in all Maryland jurisdictions should be on a heartworm preventive program. Pet owners should consult with their veterinarians.
For more information about mosquito-borne diseases, contact your local health department. The following websites are available to provide additional information: http://www.edcp.org/factsheets/wnv_fact.html and http://www.cdc.gov/westnile.