PA's First West-Nile-Positive Mosquito Of 2007 Season Discovered In Blair County

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West Nile Virus

Pennsylvania state officials reported that the first mosquito sample of the 2007 season to have tested positive for the West Nile Virus has been found in Blair Township, Blair County.

They reminded residents of precautions they should take to lessen the chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

"Finding this West Nile Virus positive mosquito reminds us all that we need to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure," Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson said. "If you're going to be outside, remember to use insect repellant containing DEET, especially around dusk and dawn, 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 staff is working with county West Nile Virus coordinators throughout the state to keep mosquitoes under control, but you can take some steps in your own back yard to help," 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."

Secretary Wolff said horse owners should contact their veterinarians for vaccinations against the disease.

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West Nile Virus cases occur primarily in late summer or early fall. In previous years, the first positive mosquito tests were reported on June 18, 2003; July 22, 2004; July 7, 2005; and June 28, 2006. Last year there were nine human cases of West Nile Virus in Pennsylvania, resulting in two deaths.

Mosquitoes will develop in any standing water or puddle that lasts more than four days. Tips to eliminate standing water include:

-- Throw away tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water- holding containers that have accumulated on property.

-- Pay special attention to discarded tires.

-- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor containers.

-- Drainage holes that are located on a container's sides allow enough water to collect for mosquitoes to develop.

-- Clean clogged roof gutters as needed.

-- Turn over plastic wading pools, wheelbarrows and birdbaths when not in use.

-- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.

-- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used.

-- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.

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