Manassas Journal Messenger | West Nile worries

Area residents may want to clean their gutters with extra vigor this spring. Though the task is rarely at the top of the “to-do” list for most homeowners, recent health concerns may bestow a higher priority on this annual ordeal.

Clogged gutters, while often unnoticed, produce a virtual petri dish of standing water prime for the breeding of mosquitoes and yes, West Nile virus.

The spread of West Nile virus continued to advance in Northern Virginia and the metropolitan area last summer with countless dead crows carrying the virus and the ever encroaching fear of human cases of the disease. All this, and Northern Virginia was dry as a bone during one of the most severe droughts on record. It wasn’t prime mosquito weather, but West Nile continued to spread. While no human cases were reported in the Prince William-Manassas area, the state health department did document cases involving 38 infected birds and seven horses.

A snowy winter and rainy spring will produce more than May flowers when the weather turns warm. The abundance of standing water will bring mosquitoes back with a vengeance and more dangers of West Nile.

While many residents live in fear of this disease, it is the responsibility of all to ensure the disease isn’t aided any more than what Mother Nature allows. That means eliminating every possible mosquito breeding area. For local residents, the common sense thing to do is eliminate all standing water. It only takes a bottle cap full of water for these insects to breed.

While old tires are the preferred man made breeding grounds, mosquitoes also thrive in clogged gutters, stagnate bird baths, flower pots, tin cans and any object which holds water for more than a couple of days.

Residents are also reminded to ensure that trash and recycling containers include holes to drain water. Wheelbarrows and wading pools are also inviting breeding grounds and should be flipped upside down after each use.

While it is impossible to eliminate all West Nile infected mosquitoes, there’s no since in area residents giving them a free ride.

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