HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania’s first probable human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) infection in 2020 has been detected in a Potter County resident. Samples are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmatory testing. The departments of Health and Environmental Protection strongly recommend that all residents minimize their exposure to mosquitoes.
“While we encourage Pennsylvanians to enjoy the outdoors, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also want them to take proper precautions from mosquitoes while outside,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “With the first human case of West Nile Virus detected, we want people to protect themselves. Several simple steps can help protect yourself and loved ones from mosquito-related diseases.”
Although mosquitoes can bite at any time of the day or night, the mosquitoes that transmit WNV 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. DEP has detected WNV-infected mosquitoes in five counties.
“The first human positive case of the year should be a reminder to all Pennsylvanians to use a personal insect repellent or stay indoors during dawn and dusk to help prevent exposure to the mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP monitors mosquito populations across Pennsylvania for the presence of disease.”
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, flowerpots 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 birdbath.
- 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 click on the Department of Health’s West Nile Virus Fact Sheet.
For more information, including current WNV test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, visit www.dep.pa.gov/westnile, or call 1-877-PA HEALTH.
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