Pennsylvania residents are urged to take steps to reduce the risk of West Nile Virus after the earliest detection of a disease carrying mosquito since testing began in 2000.According to a news release issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the infected mosquito was found May 3 in Exeter Township, Berks County.
DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said March’s warm weather caused the virus cycle to begin early this year.
Typically, the first virus-carrying mosquito is found in mid-June according to DEP. Last year, West Nile virus was detected in 59 counties and resulted in six human cases reported statewide. There is no human vaccine for West Nile virus so the best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid getting mosquito bites and to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and laying eggs in stagnant water around homes, weeds, tall grass, shrubbery and discarded tires.Residents can take the following precautions:
- Dispose of cans, buckets, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water
- Dispose of discarded tires that can collect water
- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers
- Have roof gutters cleaned regularly
- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use
- Turn over wheelbarrows
- 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 water from pool covers
- 10. Pool owners can purchase Bti, a naturally occurring bacteria that kills mosquito larva but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants
- 11. Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows
- 12. Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors
- 13. Use insect repellants with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus