HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting the first probable human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the Commonwealth. Human infections have been detected in Berks, Lancaster, Luzerne, and Philadelphia counties.
Samples are being forwarded to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be confirmed. The Department of Health, and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), strongly recommend limiting your exposure to mosquitoes.
“Detecting the first human case serves as a reminder for Pennsylvanians to take the proper precautions when they are outside or near areas where mosquitoes are prevalent,” Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito-related diseases.”
Mosquito bites can happen at any time, however, the mosquitoes that transmit WNV are most active at dawn and dusk. You can help prevent mosquito bites by using DEET-containing insect repellents and wearing lightweight clothing to cover your skin.
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To keep mosquitoes out of your house, make sure your window and door screens are in place and not damaged.
The DEP monitors and manages mosquito populations across the state. As of July 15, 2022, the DEP and other county programs have confirmed 68 WNV-infected mosquito pools in 19 different counties.
“DEP monitors the mosquito population across Pennsylvania,” said Acting DEP Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “Today’s announcement serves as a reminder that all Pennsylvanians should take precautions to protect against mosquitoes. Using a personal insect repellant or staying indoors during dawn and dusk will help prevent exposure to mosquitoes.”
Mosquitos that carry WNV primarily breed near still and stagnant water. Simple steps to eliminate standing water around the home include:
- Remove tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires, or any object that could collect standing water. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
- Have roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from nearby trees have a tendency to clog the drains.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Do not let water stagnate in birdbaths.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and remove standing water from pool covers.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
- Treat standing water that cannot be eliminated with Bti products which are sold at outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. Bti is a natural product that kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life, and plants.
The DEP is conducting a survey of Pennsylvania mosquitos to assess the risk for further human infection. If necessary, adult mosquito populations will be reduced.
For more information, as well as current WNV test results for mosquitoes, birds, and horses, visit the West Nile Virus Control Program or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.