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DEP Urges Pennsylvanians to Take Precautions to Reduce West Nile Virus Threat

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger today reminded Pennsylvania's citizens that although the number of West Nile Virus cases has dropped, the threat still exists.

"Residents must be vigilant and make every effort to control mosquitoes and reduce the threat of the virus," said Hanger.

The number of West Nile cases has substantially decreased in recent years from 237 confirmed human cases in 2003 to just 14 last year. The virus has been detected in 21 counties and, last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed the first human case this year involving a woman in Luzerne County.

Hanger asked all Pennsylvanians to take some simple precautions to 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; and
  • Use insect repellants according to the manufacturer's instructions. An effective repellant will contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician if you have questions about the use of repellant on children, as repellant is not recommended for children under the age of two months.

In addition, individuals can take a number of measures around the home to help eliminate mosquito-breeding areas, including:

  • Throw away tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have accumulated on property;
  • Pay special attention to discarded tires, which can hold stagnant water;
  • Maintain drainage holes that are located on the sides of gardening containers that might 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 use;
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish;
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used; and
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.

Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Certain species carry the West Nile Virus, which, when transmitted to people, can cause West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all residents in areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis.

Until the General Assembly approves a final state budget, comprehensive West Nile Virus spraying programs must be suspended. DEP will end grant funding for the West Nile Virus Program in 36 counties on Sept. 1. Grant funding to the remaining 31 counties for spraying operations and protection will continue for the remainder of calendar year 2009.

DEP will provide limited monitoring in the areas where grant funding has been eliminated that have historically been associated with West Nile transmission. If mosquitoes in these areas are found to carry the virus, the department will take necessary measures to reduce the mosquito population through either larval or adult mosquito control.

For more information, visit

    Teresa Candori
    (717) 787-1323

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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