Manassas Journal Messenger | West Nile alive and well

The Prince William Health District has the most reports of dead birds infected with West Nile virus in the state.

So far this year, a total of 25 birds in the health district have tested positive, health officials announced this week. This includes 16 birds found in Prince William and Manassas between July 17 and Aug. 1.

Health officials said they believe these high numbers reflect that a well-informed public has become adept at recognizing and reporting potentially infected birds.

“Now that we are observing clusters of infected birds, we are emphasizing that people need to pay special attention to eliminating mosquito breeding areas around their homes and protecting themselves from mosquito bites while outside this summer,” said Dr. Jared Florance, health director of the Prince William Health District.

West Nile virus infected mosquitoes can pass the disease to birds. They can also spread the virus to humans.

There have not been any human cases of West Nile virus in Virginia this year. There has never been a human case of the virus in the Prince William Health District.

“The presence of West Nile virus birds is confirmation that the disease is present in a neighborhood and therefore the risk is increased that mosquitoes can transmit the disease to humans,” Florance said.

The infected birds were found in the following areas: Cardinal Estates and Ranchette Estates, both off of Minnieville Road; Gingerwood Estates, near Thurgood Marshall Elementary School; and Ridgedale Estates in Dale City.

Other locations include: the Woodbine area, off of Va. 234; Williamsburg Estates, off of Lake Jackson Road; Rippon, off of U.S. 1; Bradley Forest, in the Bristow area; Oak Ridge Estates, off of Kahns Road; Marumsco Woods, near Rippon Middle School in Woodbridge; and Mountain Farm in Haymarket.

In Manassas, the infected birds were found in Cedar Crest Estates, Centreville Road at Liberia Avenue and Bristow Station.

With the high number of birds already identified in sections of the district, health officials have decided they no longer need to test birds since it is apparent the virus is established from Manassas and Manassas Park east to the Potomac River.

However, the district will continue to collect and test birds from western Prince William County until Friday.

Residents can prevent mosquitoes from breeding around their homes by turning over or removing containers where water collects such as tarps, old tires, potted plant trays, buckets and toys.

Additionally, residents should clean or disinfect bird baths and wading pools once a week, clean root gutters and downspouts, and get rid of standing water on flat roofs.

The public works department of Prince William County and the city of Manassas are currently using various measures to control mosquito populations during this period of increased risk.

County residents with questions about spraying can call the Prince William Mosquito Control Department at (703) 791-7866.

Manassas has not yet found a need to spray. Residents with questions can call Manassas Public Works at (703) 257-8374.

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