There are five times the number of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus this season than any other year in recent history, according to officials with Suffolk Mosquito Control.
“It’s not something we have ever seen,” said Charles Abadam, superintendent of the group. “This has the possibility of alarming a lot of people. That’s good and that’s bad.”
Abadam, who has worked in Suffolk for 12 years, says he wants residents to take precautions – use bug spray, wear loose and long clothing and dump standing water – but he does not want residents to be scared to go outside.
“It does affect everyone’s way of life,” he said. “You can’t enjoy outside if you are getting bit up by mosquitoes, but I want to make sure that people know that not all mosquitos are vectors of diseases.”
In fact, he says biologists regularly analyze 30 species of mosquitoes, but only the Culex pipiens species is testing positive for West Nile virus.
Abadam says the spike in West Nile virus comes as his team increases testing around the western part of downtown, where mosquitoes are most prevalent in the city.
In June, the city issued a public notice about mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
Just one in five people diagnosed with West Nile Virus will show symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
On Thursday, WAVY-TV reported about an 87-year-old North Carolina man’s diagnosis and subsequent complications that have kept him hospitalized at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center.
Marvin Moore, who lives in Wedgewood Lakes in Moyock, North Carolina is fighting for his life, according to his granddaughter Sheryl Pope.
Officials in Currituck County confirmed they received a notification about Moore’s case, but they are awaiting confirmation from the North Carolina Division of Public Health before issuing a formal warning to the public.
Abadam equates forecasting mosquito season to forecasting the weather, but he says West Nile virus is here to stay.
“With climate change and the warming, our season is longer so that’s a longer time for mosquitoes to go through the life cycle,” he said, adding that mosquitoes could find places to hibernate to live through the winter.
Mosquito spraying continues “almost daily,” according to Abadam, and Suffolk residents are able to pick up mosquito briquettes free of charges that can be placed in ditches and other standing water to kill mosquitoes.
“It’s not an emergency response. It’s not reactive,” he said. “We are trying to be very proactive in finding habitats.”