The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection confirmed cases of the West Nile Virus in two Delaware County men on Monday. This comes only five days after the Department of Health reported West Nile Virus cases in Lancaster and Franklin counties.
Doctors and officials say there is an unprecedented level of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus this year.
“The surveillance program in Pennsylvania is showing higher numbers of WNV-infected mosquitoes than any other summer since monitoring began 13 years ago,” said Delaware County Senior Medical Adviser Dr. George Avetian. “We don’t want to alarm people, but it’s important to take precautions. Prevention is the best treatment. The risk for WNV infection is highest during August and September, so we are in prime season, and the risk doesn’t end until the first hard frost.”
The Pennsylvania DEP reports the earliest detection of West Nile-virus carrying mosquitoes in the state began in 2000, citing unseasonably warm temperatures in March as the likely reason.
There were no human cases of West Nile Virus in Delaware County in 2011 though there were six human cases statewide.
While most people infected do not get sick, a small percentage will experience fever, rash, headache, brain tissue inflammation, brain inflammation and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While anyone is at risk, health officials say older adults and people with compromised immune systems have the highest risk of developing severe illness.
Mild symptoms of the virus include fever and aches that pass on their own. Officials also say however the illness may last weeks to months even in healthy people. People also need to go to the hospital in more severe cases where they can receive supportive treatment, including intravenous fluids and attention to potential complications.
In order to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile, Dr. Avertian suggests the following:
- Get rid of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers
- Pay attention to discarded tires that may have accumulated on your property
- Drill holes in the bottom of containers that are left outdoors
- Clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis
- Turn over plastic wading pools, wheelbarrows and bird baths when not in use
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used
Officials also say dead birds are an indicator of increased risk for West Nile Virus infections. If you see any dead birds in your area, please call the Intercommunity Health Coordination at 610-891-5311.
For more information on the West Nile Virus, please call the Pennsylvania Health Department at 1-877-PA-HEALTH or visit the West Nile website.