News for Immediate Release
May 16, 2014
West Nile Virus-Carrying Mosquito
Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania
Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Health today reported the
first detection in 2014 of a West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito.
The infected mosquito was found May 13
in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County.
“DEP is committed to monitoring the
mosquito population, so that when the virus is identified, our staff are able
to act quickly to prevent additional spread,” DEP Secretary E. Christopher
In 2004, Pennsylvania began its
integrated pest management program, which has improved identification and
control of mosquito populations. Certain mosquito species carry the virus,
which may cause humans to contract West Nile fever or West Nile encephalitis,
an infection that can result in inflammation of the brain.
Typically, the state’s first West Nile
Virus-carrying mosquito is found in mid-June. Last year, West Nile virus was
detected in 42 counties, resulting in 11 human cases reported statewide.
Although most people do not become ill
when infected with West Nile virus, all are at risk. Older adults and those
with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk of becoming ill and
developing severe complications.
“During a time of year when we tend to
spend more time enjoying the outdoors, we must remember to protect ourselves
and our loved ones,” said Secretary of Health Michael Wolf. “There are easy
steps we can all take to help keep our families healthy and safe.”
The best defense against West Nile virus
is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant
water around homes, weeds, tall grass, shrubbery and discarded tires.
Homeowners should also take other
precautionary measures including:
Dispose of cans, buckets, plastic containers,
ceramic pots or similar containers that hold water on your property.
Properly dispose of discarded tires that can
collect water. Stagnant water is where most mosquitoes breed.
Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling
Have roof gutters cleaned regularly,
particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to block
Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
Turn over wheelbarrows and don’t let water
stagnate in birdbaths.
Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use
and remove any water that may collect on pool covers.
For stagnant pools of water, homeowners
can buy Bti products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and
other stores. Bti is a naturally occurring bacteria that kills mosquito larva
but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.
Additionally, these simple precautions
can prevent mosquito bites, particularly for people who are most at risk:
Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and
windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes.
Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants
and socks when outdoors, particularly when mosquitoes are most active at dawn
and dusk, or in areas known for having large numbers of mosquitoes.
When possible, reduce outdoor exposure at dawn
and dusk during peak mosquito periods.
Use insect repellants according to the
manufacturer’s instructions. An effective repellant will contain DEET,
picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Consult with a pediatrician or family
physician if you have questions about the use of repellant on children, as
repellant is not recommended for children under the age of two months.
For more information about West Nile
Virus and the state’s surveillance and control program, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us.
Amanda Witman, DEP, 717-787-1323
Holli Senior, Health, 717-787-1783