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Posted at 09:31 AM ET, 09/16/2011

West Nile virus confirmed in Prince George’s County

A mosquito “acquiring a blood meal from a human host,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Washington area has seen an increase in mealtimes such as this, as heavy rains and standing water has led to an increase in mosquito populations. (James Gathany - ASSOCIATED PRESS)
A New Carrollton resident has contracted West Nile virus, Prince George’s County’s first confirmed case of the virus in a human, officials announced Friday.

West Nile is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, and it could take anywhere from two to 15 days after being bitten before symptoms appear.

Symptoms include fever, headache and nausea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus can also cause serious damage to the nervous system.

There was no information available on the condition of the infected resident.

It comes as no surprise to those of us who have been scratching ourselves raw that the Washington area’s mosquito population has seen a significant boom this summer. Health officials attribute the influx of pests to heavy rains and major flooding throughout the region. Mosquitoes thrive in standing water, they said.

County officials are urging residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved clothing while outdoors, which won’t be a problem as temperatures cool down, and by “removing breeding mosquitoes from yards.”

The county did not specify live mosquito-removal methods, but the CDC gives the following advice for eliminating their breeding grounds:

— Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels.

— Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly.

— Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.

— Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when not in use.

By  |  09:31 AM ET, 09/16/2011

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