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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Pennsylvania Department of Health
HARRISBURG, Pa., May 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Health today reported the first detection in 2014 of a West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito.
The infected mosquito was found May 13 in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County.
"DEP is committed to monitoring the mosquito population, so that when the virus is identified, our staff are able to act quickly to prevent additional spread," DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said.
In 2004, Pennsylvania began its integrated pest management program, which has improved identification and control of mosquito populations. Certain mosquito species carry the virus, which may cause humans to contract West Nile fever or West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in inflammation of the brain.
Typically, the state's first West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito is found in mid-June. Last year, West Nile virus was detected in 42 counties, resulting in 11 human cases reported statewide.
Although most people do not become ill when infected with West Nile virus, all are at risk. Older adults and those with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk of becoming ill and developing severe complications.
"During a time of year when we tend to spend more time enjoying the outdoors, we must remember to protect ourselves and our loved ones," said Secretary of Health Michael Wolf. "There are easy steps we can all take to help keep our families healthy and safe."
The best defense against West Nile virus is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water around homes, weeds, tall grass, shrubbery and discarded tires.
Homeowners should also take other precautionary measures including:
For stagnant pools of water, homeowners can buy Bti products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. Bti is a naturally occurring bacteria that kills mosquito larva 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:
For more information about West Nile Virus and the state's surveillance and control program, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us.
Amanda Witman, DEP, 717-787-1323
Holli Senior, Health, 717-787-1783
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