Pa. residents are encouraged to fight the mosquito bite

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Harrisburg, Pa. — Summertime is for swimming pools and lemonade, not for mosquito bites and diseases like West Nile Virus, so the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is encouraging residents to fight the bite and protect themselves. 

One human case of West Nile virus has already been reported in Pennsylvania this year. Symptoms of WNV in humans are typically like those of a mild flu, but the virus can lead to a more serious condition that includes swelling of the brain, muscle convulsions, coma, paralysis, and death. Since DEP first began monitoring for the virus in 2000 there have been 48 fatal cases of West Nile Virus in Pennsylvania. 

There are many things people can do to protect themselves from mosquitoes. 

  • Eliminate standing, stagnant water near your home – bird baths, kiddie pools, and other outdoor decorations can be mosquito breeding grounds if the water sits for a few days.
  • Keep gutters clean of debris. 
  • Wear insect repellent or long sleeves when mosquitoes are active, usually around dawn and dusk. 
  • Repair window screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home. 
  • Clean up litter in your neighborhood. Just a single cap from a plastic bottle can be home to 300 mosquito eggs. 

Use of commonly sold insect repellents, like those using DEET, Picaridin, or other EPA-registered repellants, can also cut down on mosquito bites, and possible exposure to the virus. Long pants and sleeves are also an important way to cut down on possible exposure to mosquitoes. 

DEP conducts regular surveillance and control to manage mosquito populations around the state. As of July 15, DEP and county vector programs have detected 68 WNV-infected mosquito pools in 19 counties. 

DEP and county partners throughout the state will also conduct routine, localized spraying to control infected adult populations of mosquitoes. These operations are conducted when and where deemed necessary based on recent population survey results. 

DEP will continue to survey affected communities to monitor mosquito activity and WNV. DEP biologists have initiated a survey of the mosquito population to determine the risk for further human illness. If necessary, adult mosquito populations will be reduced. These efforts will continue through October. 

More information on mosquitoes, WNV, and other mosquito-borne diseases can be found at dep.pa.gov/westnile.

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