Mosquitoes Carrying West Nile Virus Detected Early in Pennsylvania, Says Harhart
HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a report on the early discovery of the year’s first mosquito carrying the West Nile virus in Pennsylvania, announced Rep. Julie Harhart (R-Lehigh/Northampton).
The infected mosquito was found May 3 in Exeter Township, Berks County. Typically, the state’s first West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito is found in mid-June.
“I encourage residents to take the proper precautions and protect themselves from potentially contracting the virus and to do their part in preventing the continued breeding of mosquitoes,” said Harhart. “West Nile virus can pose a serious health risk for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, so it is important we each do our part to combat the spread of the virus.”
West Nile virus is spread by the bite of a mosquito that acquired the virus from the blood of an infected bird. The virus can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Last year, six people were reported to have contracted West Nile virus in Pennsylvania.
The best way to prevent the spread of West Nile virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water around homes, weeds, tall grass, shrubbery and discarded tires, so the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages residents to:
• Dispose of cans, buckets, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers
that hold water on one’s property.
• Properly dispose of discarded tires that can collect water. Stagnant water is
where most mosquitoes breed.
• Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers.
• Have roof gutters cleaned regularly, particularly if the leaves from surrounding
trees have a tendency to block drains.
• Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
• Turn over wheelbarrows and 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 any water that may
collect on pool covers.
DEP also suggests homeowners can buy Bti products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores to treat stagnant pools of water. Bti is a naturally occurring bacteria that kills mosquito larva but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.
For more information about West Nile virus and the state’s surveillance and control program, visit Harhart’s website at www.JulieHarhart.com
State Representative Julie Harhart
183rd District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman