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West Nile not found in county ... so far

But it has been detected nearby

September 4, 2010
The year’s first human case of the West Nile virus in Pennsylvania was confirmed in late August in a 69-year-old Philadelphia County man. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, West Nile virus statistics vary from year to year, but there are generally several human cases each summer since the first identified case in 2000. So far, no creatures in Warren County have tested positive for the virus this year, but several animal positives have been found in neighboring counties. “There are no positive mosquito, bird or equine cases of West Nile virus detected in Warren County this year,” said Freda Tarbell, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Spokesperson Freda Tarbell said. “Erie County has recorded numerous mosquito positives, and a bird in Erie County was positive for the virus. Just this week, sampling in other counties adjacent to Warren County has generated positive results for mosquitoes in Venango and Crawford counties.” Weather permitting, personnel from DEP and the Erie County Department of Health will be spraying in Millcreek Township on Wednesday evening. All but 29 of the state’s 67 counties have no positive reports so far this year, but Tarbell said the numbers “likely will change in the days and weeks ahead.” The virus can cause a severe infection or a mild “fever.” “A severe West Nile infection can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain,” a release from the Department of Health said. “Older adults and persons with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk of becoming ill after a West Nile infection.” The more serious infection can lead to high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and coma, according to the Department of Health. With the milder version, symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. “Certain mosquito species carry the West Nile virus,” Tarbell said. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all residents in areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis.” If there are no mosquitoes, there is no danger. “The best defense against West Nile virus is not giving mosquitoes a place to breed,” Tarbell said. Any standing, stagnant water can serve as a breeding ground. Common examples of items that can collect water include: cans, buckets, clogged roof gutters, tires, wheelbarrows, pool covers, ceramic pots, birdbaths and recycling and garbage cans. Treatments are available at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, and home improvement stores for standing water that can’t be dumped or prevented, Tarbell said. Screens over doors and windows should be tight to keep mosquitoes out of homes, according to the Department of Health. “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,” Tarbell said. “When possible, reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk during peak mosquito periods, usually April through October.” She said key ingredients in insect repellents that will be effective include: DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. The position of Warren County West Nile virus coordinator, formerly part of the Warren County Conservation District, was eliminated last year. Collection and testing of mosquitoes in the county is now handled by DEP.


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