Pennsylvania’s first probable human case of the West Nile Virus infection in 2017 was detected in a Montgomery County resident, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Tuesday. They have not revealed which Montgomery County town the person resides in.
“Detecting the first human case of West Nile Virus this year serves as a great reminder for Pennsylvanians to take the proper precautions when they are outside or near areas where mosquitoes are prevalent,” Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine said. “There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito-related diseases.”
Officials say mosquitoes that transmit the West Nile Virus are most active at dawn and dusk. People outdoors can avoid mosquito bites by properly and consistently using DEET-containing insect repellants and covering any exposed skin with lightweight clothing. Homeowners are also advised to make sure their window and door screens are in place and in good condition to keep mosquitoes from coming inside.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regularly manages mosquito populations around the state. So far the DEP has detected West Nile Virus-infected mosquitoes in 36 Pennsylvania counties. They will continue surveying affected communities and monitor mosquito activity until October.
“DEP monitors the mosquito population across Pennsylvania,” said Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Today’s announcement serves as a reminder that all Pennsylvanians should take precautions to protect against mosquitoes. Using a personal insect repellant or staying indoors during dawn and dusk will help prevent exposure to mosquitoes.”
Mosquitoes that transmit the West Nile Virus breed in areas with standing and stagnant water including urban catch basins, clogged gutters, discarded tires, poorly maintained swimming pools, flower pots and other types of plastic containers.
Officials recommend taking the following steps to eliminate standing water around the home:
- 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.
Learn more about the West Nile Virus and its symptoms here.