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PA's First West-Nile-Positive Mosquito of 2008 Season Discovered in Luzerne County

State Officials Remind People to Use Insect Repellant, Eliminate Standing Water

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- State officials today reported the first mosquito sample of 2008 to test positive for the West Nile Virus and reminded residents of precautions to lessen the chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

The positive sample was found in West Wyoming Borough, Luzerne County.

"Discovering mosquitoes with West Nile Virus is a reminder that we all need to take steps to protect ourselves and limit exposure," said Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson. "Dawn and dusk are peak times for mosquito activity, so if you're outside, remember to use insect repellant containing DEET and wear long sleeves and light-colored clothing when possible."

While most people do not get sick, a small percentage of those bitten will experience a fever, rash, headache, meningitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Everyone is at risk, but older adults and people with compromised immune systems have the highest risk of developing severe illness because their bodies have a harder time fighting off disease.

"DEP staff and county West Nile Virus coordinators have been conducting an aggressive statewide monitoring and spraying program to eliminate mosquitoes that transmit the virus, but residents can take some simple steps to help remove mosquito breeding areas in their own back yard," Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. "Remember: Dump it. Drain it. Treat it.

"Dump it if it has water in it; drain it if it can be drained; and treat it if it has standing water."

A material known as Bti, which is available at many retail stores, can be safely used to treat standing water.

"As with people, animals become infected with the West Nile Virus only after being bitten by an infected mosquito," Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said. "Horses are most susceptible to illness after exposure, and we will continue to work with veterinarians and horse owners across the state to monitor horse populations."

Wolff said horse owners should contact their veterinarians for vaccinations against the disease.

West Nile Virus cases occur primarily in late summer or early fall. In previous years, the first positive mosquito tests were reported on June 18, 2003; July 22, 2004; July 7, 2005; and June 28, 2006 and June 12, 2008.

Last year there were 10 human cases of West Nile Virus in Pennsylvania, but no deaths were reported. The virus was found in 25 Pennsylvania counties in 2007.

Mosquitoes will develop in any standing water or puddle that lasts more than four days. Tips to eliminate standing water include:

-- Throw away tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar

water-holding containers that have accumulated on property.

-- Pay special attention to discarded tires.

-- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor containers.

-- Drainage holes that are located on a container's sides allow enough

water to collect for mosquitoes to develop.

-- Clean clogged roof gutters as needed.

-- Turn over plastic wading pools, wheelbarrows and birdbaths when not in


-- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.

-- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used.

-- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your


For more information, visit

CONTACT: Tom Rathbun (DEP)

(717) 787-1323

Stacy Kriedeman (Health)

(717) 787-1783

Chris L. Ryder (Agriculture)

(717) 787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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