The Department of Environmental Protection’s West Nile Virus Program website Friday listed positive surveillance sampling results in 8 more counties this week-- Elk, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Snyder, Somerset and Washington bringing the total to 48 counties with positive results.
The other counties with positive surveillance results, include the previously reported counties of-- Adams, Allegheny, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Union, Westmoreland, Wyoming and York.
DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell warned this week the very wet weather experienced around the state has led to almost perfect mosquito breeding conditions and citizens should take steps to eliminate mosquito-breeding areas.
Certain mosquito species carry the West Nile virus, which can cause humans to contract West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain. According to the Department of Health, all residents in areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of contracting West Nile encephalitis.
Individuals can take a number of precautionary measures around their homes to help eliminate mosquito-breeding areas, including:
-- Dispose of cans, buckets, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar containers that hold water.
-- Properly dispose of discarded tires that can collect water. Stagnant water is where most mosquitoes breed.
-- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers.
-- Have clogged roof gutters cleaned every year as the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains.
-- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
-- Turn over wheelbarrows and don't let water stagnate in birdbaths.
-- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
-- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use and remove any water that may collect on pool covers.
If a resident has stagnant pools of water on their property, they can buy Bti (short for Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis) products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. This naturally occurring bacterium kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.
Additionally, these simple precautions can prevent mosquito bites, particularly for people who are most at risk:
-- Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes.
-- 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.
-- When possible, reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk during peak mosquito periods, usually April through October.
-- Use insect repellents according to the manufacturer's instructions. An effective repellent will contain DEET, picardin, or lemon eucalyptus oil. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician for questions about the use of repellent on children, as repellent is not recommended for children under the age of two months.For more information about West Nile virus and the state's surveillance and control program, please visit the West Nile Virus website.