Add Dauphin County to the growing list of Pennsylvania counties that has tested positive for West Nile virus in 2019.
Dauphin County Conservation District staff collected the county’s first infected mosquito sample in Washington Township on August 9. No human cases of the virus have been reported, according to Commissioner Jeff Haste, who oversees the Conservation District.
“The county’s West Nile Virus Control Program is increasing surveillance and control measures to reduce the mosquito population and prevent the virus from spreading,” Haste said in a county statement.
Some species of mosquitoes carry the virus. When it’s transmitted to humans, the West Nile Virus is known to cause encephalitis, which is an infection that can cause inflammation of the brain.
All residents near the area where the virus has been detected are considered at-risk of getting West Nile encephalitis, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Mosquitoes thrive and replicate faster in warm, humid temperatures — like the weather we’re having now,” said Commissioner Mike Pries. “Older adults and those who compromised immune systems are most likely to become ill and develop severe complications from the virus.”
Dauphin County recommends the following:
- Buy products with Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) — a naturally-occurring bacteria that kills mosquito larvae but is safe for people, pets and plants — for stagnant pools of water in the lawn and garden.
- Remove any standing water in pots, containers, pool covers, tires, wheelbarrows, wading pools, roof gutters and other containers that hold water.
- Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes.
- Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors, particularly when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, or in areas known for having large numbers of mosquitoes.
- Reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk during peak mosquito periods, usually April through October.
- Use insect repellents according to the manufacturer’s instructions. An effective repellent will contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician if you have questions about the use of repellent on children, as repellent is not recommended for children under the age of two months.
“Although the risk of contracting West Nile Virus from an infected mosquito is small, people — particularly the elderly and those with compromised immune systems — should try to reduce their risk,” said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III.