Pennsylvania’s first probable human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) infection in 2015 has been detected. A Venango county woman was hospitalized due to WNV. She has since been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
The departments of Health and Environmental Protection strongly recommend that all residents minimize their exposure to mosquitoes.
“Detecting the first human case serves as a great reminder for Pennsylvanians to take the proper precautions when they are outside or near areas where mosquitoes are prevalent,” Secretary of Health Karen Murphy said. “There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito-related diseases.”
Although mosquitoes can bite at any time of day or night, they are most active at dawn and dusk. When outdoors, people can avoid mosquito bites by properly and consistently using DEET-containing insect repellants and covering exposed skin with lightweight clothing. To keep mosquitoes from entering a home, make sure window and door screens are in place and are in good condition.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducts regular surveillance and control to manage mosquito populations around the state. So far, DEP has detected WNV-infected mosquitoes in 25 counties.
“DEP monitors the mosquito population across Pennsylvania,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “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.”
The mosquitoes that transmit WNV breed in areas with standing and stagnant water. These areas can include urban catch basins, clogged gutters, discarded tires, poorly maintained swimming pools, flower pots and other types of plastic containers.
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.
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.
For a fact sheet on WNV, including symptoms, please visit the Department of Health’s webpage, http://www.health.pa.gov/ , and click on “West Nile Virus Fact Sheet” under “Hot Topics.”
For more information, including current WNV test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us and click on ”Surveillance Maps and Tables,” or call 1-877-PA HEALTH.