A mosquito has tested positive for West Nile virus in Bradford, the first such report of the year across the four-county region.
The state Department of Environmental Protection announced earlier this week that 24 mosquito samples tested positive for the virus, all of them down state except in Bradford’s case.
“The dry weather will help this situation, but (it’s) also a good idea for citizens to eliminate any standing water on their property. Mosquitoes can breed in a quarter inch of standing water,” said Jim Clark, extension water resources educator for Penn State Extension.
The state’s West Nile virus staff is responding with more surveillance and control as needed, state officials announced. For the most part, West Nile encephalitis cases happen in hot weather during the late summer or early fall, according to the Penn State Extension website.
While everyone is at risk of falling victim to West Nile encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, individuals older than 50 have the highest probability of coming down with the severe illness.
Some people experience no symptoms, while others might have mild illness such as fever, headache, and body aches prior to making a full recovery. A more severe infection could involve a headache, high fever, a stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and, sometimes, death. Those with mild symptoms are expected to make a complete recovery, meaning specific medication or laboratory testing are not required, according to the Penn State Extension’s website.
At this point, no vaccine exists for humans, though research is ongoing, Penn State Extension officials point out.
But there are ways for people to reduce how many mosquitoes appear around their home and neighborhood. People should eliminate standing water used by mosquitoes for breeding; people can turn over cans, containers, wheelbarrows, boats and other objects.
“Do not overlook containers that have become overgrown by aquatic vegetation. Pay special attention to discarded tires that may have collected on your property. Tires have become the most important mosquito breeding sites in the country,” Penn State Extension states on its website. “Drill holes in the bottom of recycled containers that are left outdoors. Containers with drainage holes on the sides can still collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed.”
In addition, gutters should be cleaned each year, especially if leaves from nearby trees plug up the drains, according to the Penn State Extension’s website.
“Check storm drains, leaky faucets, and window wells. Do not allow water to stagnate in birdbaths, ornamental pools, water gardens, and swimming pools or their covers,” the website states. “Ornamental pools can be aerated or stocked with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if allowed to stagnate. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool left unattended for a month by a vacationing family can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Mosquitoes may even breed in water that collects on swimming pool covers.”
Individuals can also take other precautions to ward off mosquitoes. Those include remaining indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening; wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors; and applying insect repellents such as DEET on the skin and clothing.
The state’s West Nile virus staff is responding with more surveillance and control as needed, state officials announced.
For more information on West Nile virus, see extension.psu.edu/pests/ipm/health/mosquitoes-west-nile-virus.