Public urged to take steps to avoid infection, prevent mosquito breeding
HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Three additional human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) have been identified in Pennsylvania, the state departments of Health and Environmental Protection reported today.
Two of the illnesses are in Delaware County men; the third involves a woman in Centre County. All were hospitalized with meningitis and are recovering.
This brings to five the total number of reported cases in Pennsylvania this year and expands the areas in which human disease has been recognized. The two previously reported cases were in Lancaster and Franklin counties.
Pennsylvania is dealing with an unprecedented West Nile Virus problem this summer. Sampling shows that high numbers of WNV-infected mosquitoes are present in many parts of the state, including the areas with identified human illness. The DEP's findings also indicate the risk for more human infections is high and will remain high through the rest of the summer and into early fall.
The Department of Health urges all residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Because the elderly and people with impaired immune systems are at highest risk of developing severe WNV illness, they should be especially careful about mosquito exposure.
The mosquitoes that transmit WNV breed in areas with standing and stagnant water, such as urban catch basins, clogged gutters, discarded tires, poorly maintained swimming pools, flower pots and plastic containers.
Simple steps to eliminate standing water around the home include:
- Remove tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires or any object that could collect standing water. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
- Have roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from nearby trees have a tendency to clog the drains.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Do not let water stagnate in birdbaths.
- Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with fish.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, and remove standing water from pool covers.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
- Treat standing water that cannot be eliminated with Bti products which are sold at outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. Bti is a natural product that kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.
Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day or night, but are most active at dawn and dusk. When outdoors, people can avoid mosquito bites by properly and consistently using DEET-containing insect repellents and covering exposed skin with lightweight clothing. To keep mosquitoes from entering a home, make sure window and door screens are in place and are in good condition.
When necessary, DEP will conduct larval and adult mosquito-control activities in order to lessen the threat to human health. These efforts will continue through the end of October.
For a fact sheet on WNV, including symptoms, please visit the Department of Health's webpage, www.health.state.pa.us, and click on "West Nile Virus Fact Sheet" under "What's Hot." If you have additional health-related questions about WNV, visit your health care provider or call 1-877-PA HEALTH (877-724-3258).
For more information, including current test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, or to subscribe to daily West Nile virus updates, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us and click on the Pennsylvania map.
Christine Cronkright, Health; 717-787-1783
Amanda Witman, DEP; 717-787-1323
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health