Protect Yourself from Mosquito Borne Diseases such as West Nile Virus

August 1, 2018

For Information Contact

  • Northern Region Public Information Officer Lorrie Andrew-Spear, 703-530-2627

Residents Reminded to Empty Standing Water and Protect Against Mosquito Bites

Richmond, Va. – The Virginia Department of Health reminds residents in the Richmond Metro Area to protect themselves and their families against mosquitoes. Recent heavy rains due to seasonal weather systems in central Virginia are leaving standing water, and that means more breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquito bites are not just red and itchy; they can also transmit diseases, such as West Nile Virus.

This summer, the mosquito surveillance program in Henrico County has detected numerous West Nile virus infected mosquitoes throughout the County. While neighboring localities do not have mosquito surveillance or testing programs, the widespread positive results in Henrico suggest that mosquitoes in other neighboring jurisdictions are also carrying the West Nile Virus and can potentially infect residents throughout the Richmond area.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus include headache, fever, body aches or a rash, but infections can also cause mental confusion, disorientation, or paralysis in some people. While most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will not get sick or experience symptoms, people over age 60 and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for severe illness and even death. There has been one probable human case of West Nile so far this year in Virginia.

It is important that everyone take steps to protect themselves:

  • Eliminate sources of standing water on your property. Clean out roof gutters, downspouts and birdbaths. Properly dispose of tires. Dump and turn over, remove or cover containers such as potted plant trays, garbage cans, buckets wheelbarrows, boats and toys. The mosquitoes that carry WNV can breed in any container of water – particularly if the flooded container also contains leaves, grass, and/or other rotting vegetation.
  • Keep windows and doors to the home closed, or install or repair screens to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day or night. However, it is advisable to stay indoors during peak mosquito biting times such as dusk, nighttime and dawn. The primary carrier of West Nile Virus, the “northern house mosquito,” becomes most active beginning at sundown.
  • When possible, wear long, loose, light-colored clothing, including long sleeves, pants, shoes and socks.
  • Apply an insect repellent that contains either DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 on clothing and exposed skin. Follow label instructions, particularly for children.

For more information on West Nile Virus, visit the Virginia Department of Health website at