Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wolf, DEP Announce $2 Million+ In Mosquito Control Grants To 30 Counties

Gov. Tom Wolf and the Department of Environmental Protection Thursday announced the award of more than $2 million in grants to Pennsylvania counties to survey and control mosquitoes that carry West Nile or Zika virus.
Monitoring for WNV began May 1, 2017; monitoring for Zika virus will begin on June 1.
DEP Tuesday reported its first West Nile Virus positive test result for the season from a mosquito in Cressona Borough in Schuylkill County.  A second positive result was reported Wednesday in Reading, Berks County.
“I am pleased that we are once again able to partner with Pennsylvania counties to conduct this surveillance and control of mosquitoes, which can carry diseases that pose a serious risk to human health,” said Gov. Wolf.
DEP annually partners with counties to cover the costs associated with surveying and controlling mosquitoes that can carry WNV, and for 2017, Zika virus. DEP and county programs use a combination of education, surveillance, source reduction, and environmentally responsible insecticides to reduce the risk of WNV and Zika virus.
“DEP is committed to preventing the spread of mosquito borne disease in Pennsylvania,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “County governments use this grant funding to identify and control mosquitoes associated with West Nile and Zika virus using the safest, most effective integrated pest management practices available.”
The grants, funded by the General Fund, were developed in consultation with county officials and are largely based on the historic occurrence of mosquito species that can carry WNV and/or Zika virus.  
The most common species of mosquito that carries Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, has not been found in Pennsylvania since 2002, however another species that can carry the virus, Aedes albopictus, is prevalent in southern Pennsylvania counties, especially in the southeast. Mosquitoes that can carry WNV are found in all 67 counties.
In 2016 there were 16 confirmed human cases of WNV in Pennsylvania. There were no cases of Zika virus that were the result of local transmission; Zika cases in 2016 were all travel related.
Simple, commonsense preventative measures are critical in reducing mosquito populations. DEP encourages Pennsylvanians to remove standing water from their property and use insect repellents outdoors to prepare for mosquito season and prevent infection.
Birds can be carriers of WNV, and DEP tests dead birds for WNV to determine the virus’ presence in the environment.
To report a dead bird, file a mosquito complaint, or for more information about WNV, visit the West Nile Virus website or call 717-346-8243.
Zika virus is not carried by birds. For more information on Zika virus, please visit Health’s Zika Virus webpage.
[Note: The budget adopted by House Republicans in April would cut funding for West Nile Virus and Zika Virus Control by $338,000.]
(Photo: Zika Virus carrying mosquito.)

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