Health

“We’re freaking out”: Long, hot summer produces record for West Nile virus in Virginia

“We’re freaking out”: Long, hot summer produces record for West Nile virus in Virginia

CHESAPEAKE

Biologist Lisa Wagenbrenner grabbed a mesh bag of mosquitoes from inside the tackle box. Underneath, a fetid container of water had attracted the tiny insects – 58 female common brown house mosquitoes.

These already had their blood meal. They had come to lay eggs.

A fan inside the box swept them up so Wagenbrenner could bring them back to her Chesapeake laboratory. There they’d be frozen, identified, ground up in tiny tubes and tested for West Nile virus.

Across Virginia, similar scenes have played out over the spring, the hot summer months and now the fall. And what they’re finding is frightening: There have been 38 human cases of West Nile as of Oct. 5, a sharp uptick from the previous record of 29, according to the state health department. That number is likely to increase as mosquito season comes to an end on Oct. 31, experts say.

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