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Positive Mosquito Count for West Nile Virus Lead DEP, Southeastern PA Counties to Ramp up Treatment Activities
Date:8/18/2008

NORRISTOWN, Pa., Aug. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Due to an exceptionally high number of West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes in southeastern Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection and its county partners will be stepping up efforts this week to combat the mosquito populations that have -- or are most likely to carry -- the virus.

While only one human case of the West Nile virus has been confirmed this year (a 27-year-old Montgomery County woman), DEP's southeast regional director said the conditions merit additional treatments.

"With nearly 70 percent of the state's infected mosquitoes here in the southeast region, we're taking coordinated action to reduce this threat," said Joseph A. Feola. "In order to protect the public, DEP is temporarily reassigning certified pesticide applicators from other parts of the state so that we can be more aggressive in our treatment efforts."

Residents of Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties should expect more frequent mosquito sprayings during the evening hours by state and county West Nile virus staff.

Only those areas with mosquitoes that are capable of carrying the virus will be sprayed.

Spraying activities conducted by DEP will be reported to the media and will be posted at http://www.westnile.state.pa.us/NewsReleases.

Typically, spraying for mosquitoes occurs during the evening in targeted areas with truck-mounted equipment, which dispenses Biomist 3 + 15, a permethrin insecticide product, at a rate of 0.75 ounces per acre.

Certain mosquito 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.

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

-- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have collected on your property.

-- Pay attention to discarded tires. Stagnant water is where most mosquitoes breed.

-- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers.

-- Have clogged roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains. Roof gutters can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.

-- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. Stagnant water in a wading pool becomes a place for mosquitoes to breed.

-- Turn over wheelbarrows and don't let water stagnate in birdbaths. Both provide breeding habitats for domestic mosquitoes.

-- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.

-- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use. A swimming pool left untended by a family on vacation for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.

-- For stagnant pools of water, homeowners can buy Bti products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. This naturally occurring bacteria kills mosquito larva but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.

In addition, here are some simple precautions to prevent mosquito bites, particularly for people who are most at risk:

-- Make sure screen 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 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.

For more information about West Nile virus and the state's surveillance and control program, go to http://www.westnile.state.pa.us.

CONTACT: Dennis Harney

(484) 250-5819


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
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