CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Positive cases of the West Nile virus in mosquitoes are showing up in traps across Hampton Roads.
“A low growing vegetation [grass] is great for mosquitoes to hide in," said Chesapeake Mosquito Control Director Lisa Wagenbrenner.
Mosquitos can hide and breed in any place where there is water.
“Typical containers, like buckets filled with water for more than seven days, can potentially have mosquitoes laying eggs and breeding," said Wagenbrenner.
Pointing to nearby water bottles, she explained a little bit of water can welcome more of the insect.
“That will potentially breed mosquitoes," said Wagenbrenner.
Wagenbrenner said her team has seen an increase in mosquitoes that have tested positive for West Nile virus.
“Typically we don’t see this many. We’re up to about 17 positive pools to date. And it’s really not even the meat of the season yet. It usually doesn’t ramp up until maybe September or maybe even October," she said.
Wagenbrenner said the department has 150 mosquito traps sites, and a pumping station in a neighborhood in the Greenbriar area of Chesapeake is where one of the positive cases was located.
"We collected the mosquitoes last week, and we tested them. And they turned up positive for the West Nile virus," she said.
After a trap of mosquitoes tests positive, the commission sprays the surrounding area for two nights in a row.
“I heard a noise outside my house the other night, and it sounded like a lawnmower in my yard," said homeowner Russell Seyle. "So I said who’s cutting my grass? I went out there, and it wasn't somebody cutting my grass. It was the truck driving by with the sprayer!"
Seyle lives across the street from the pumping station and volunteers to keep it clean. Wagenbrenner hopes neighbors keep their homes clean, too.
“[With] containers that are holding water, make sure after heavy rainfalls to dump that kind of stuff out because I don’t know anybody that likes mosquitoes," said Seyle.
The Chesapeake Health Department said there have been no positive cases in humans. However, residents should take preventive measures when outside and also wear insect repellent.
Health officials explain the West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus can impact a person’s nervous system. Some symptoms include experiencing fever, headache and muscle aches that can last days to weeks. While most people make a full recovery, severe cases can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis and even death.
Chesapeake officials advise people to visit their website to report any issues regarding mosquitoes or problem areas.