HARRISBURG, Pa. — State officials reported June 13 the first mosquito sample of 2008, to test positive for the West Nile Virus and reminded residents of precautions to lessen the chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The positive sample was found in West Wyoming Borough, Luzerne County, in the northeastern portion of the state.
“Discovering mosquitoes with West Nile Virus is a reminder that we all need to take steps to protect ourselves and limit exposure,” said Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson.
“Dawn and dusk are peak times for mosquito activity, so if you’re outside, remember to use insect repellent containing DEET and wear long sleeves and light-colored clothing when possible.”
While most people do not get sick, a small percentage of those bitten will experience a fever, rash, headache, meningitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Everyone is at risk, but older adults and people with compromised immune systems have the highest risk of developing severe illness because their bodies have a harder time fighting off disease.
“DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) staff and county West Nile Virus coordinators have been conducting an aggressive statewide monitoring and spraying program to eliminate mosquitoes that transmit the virus, but residents can take some simple steps to help remove mosquito breeding areas in their own back yard,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said.
“Remember: Dump it. Drain it. Treat it.
“Dump it if it has water in it; drain it if it can be drained; and treat it if it has standing water.”
A material known as Bti, which is available at many retail stores, can be safely used to treat standing water.
“As with people, animals become infected with the West Nile Virus only after being bitten by an infected mosquito,” Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said.
“Horses are most susceptible to illness after exposure, and we will continue to work with veterinarians and horse owners across the state to monitor horse populations.”
Wolff said horse owners should contact their veterinarians for vaccinations against the disease. West Nile Virus cases occur primarily in late summer or early fall.
Last year, there were 10 human cases of West Nile Virus in Pennsylvania, but no deaths were reported. The virus was found in 25 Pennsylvania counties in 2007.
For more information, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us.