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D.C. steps up efforts to fight West Nile

(Published September 10, 2001)

D.C. health officials announced Sept. 7 that they have stepped up their mosquito-control efforts as officials in Baltimore confirmed that city’s first human case of West Nile virus. There have been no human cases of West Nile virus in the District.

The D.C. Department of Health reports that 103 dead crows found in the District have tested positive for West Nile virus this summer. The birds were found between July 16 and Aug. 31 in the Northeast and Northwest quadrants of the city.

West Nile virus, a form of encephalitis, is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have ingested the virus from infected birds. No mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus in the District, officials said.

Health officials said they have increased their "mosquito surveillance" and use of larvicides in potential mosquito-breeding sites in Northeast and Northwest, while continuing those efforts throughout the city as well.

Officials also are continuing to distribute educational literature door-to-door in areas where infected dead birds have been found to alert residents of the need to reduce potential mosquito breeding sites. Mosquitoes generally breed in areas where standing, stagnant water is present.

Officials said residents are encouraged to use personal protection against mosquito bites.

Residents who find dead crows, hawks or blue jays are asked to call the Department of Health’s West Nile Virus Call Center at (202) 442-9239 to get the birds picked up for testing. Officials are encouraging residents to report the location of dead bird carcasses. West Nile virus is not directly transmitted from birds to humans, health officials said.

More information is available online at the Department of Health’s Web site at www.dchealth.com, which al-so contains a link to the site for the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator