Mosquito samples test positive for West Nile virus in Antrim Township

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Antrim Township has been added to the areas of Franklin County to be sprayed in order to control adult mosquito population and the threat of West Nile virus. Franklin County recently confirmed its first case of West Nile virus in a human this year. Officials do not disclose in what area the victim lives.

Spraying has been in Antrim Township this week. Weather conditions permitting, spraying to control adult mosquito populations will be conducted during the evening hours Thursday, Aug. 9 in portions of Antrim Township.  Friday, Aug. 10 is reserved as a backup date, if needed. According to the Penn State Extention, mosquito samples testing positive for the West Nile virus have been detected in this area.

Statewide, West Nile has been detected in 44 counties. As of Tuesday, Aug. 7, there have been 1,301 mosquito samples testing positive, 47 avian mortality cases and two veterinary cases.  There have been two confirmed human cases, including one in Franklin County. The other is in Lancaster County.  There have been 12 mosquito samples that tested positive for the virus so far this year in Franklin County, 3 in Guilford, 2 each in Peters,  Hamilton and Antrim townships, and one each in Greene, and Lurgan Townships and one in Waynesboro Borough, officials said.

Precautions

Due to an unprecedented level of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus, the Department of Health strongly urges residents to minimize their exposure to mosquitoes.

“Pennsylvanians should take steps to eliminate mosquito breeding sites around their homes and prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellants,” advised Secretary of Health Dr. Eli N. Avila. “This is even more important for older Pennsylvanians and people with weakened immune systems, since they are at the greatest risk of severe illness — including encephalitis — if they develop West Nile virus infection.”

Statewide sampling shows higher numbers of WNV-infected mosquitoes than any other summer since monitoring began 10 years ago. This is likely due to last year’s mild winter.

As a result, Pennsylvania could see a greater number of human illnesses in 2012 than in recent years. The risk for WNV infection is highest during August and September and will not end until the first hard frost.  The ULV treatments will be conducted in the evening by personnel from the Franklin County West Nile Program using the product BioMist.

 Certain species of mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, which, when transmitted to people, can cause West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all residents of areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis.

Tips to follow

There are things every individual can do around the home to help eliminate mosquito-breeding areas. Some of these tips include:

• Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have collected on your property.

• Pay attention to discarded tires. Stagnant water in tires are where most mosquitoes breed.

• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.

• Have clogged roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.

• Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. Stagnant water in a wading pool becomes a place for mosquitoes to breed.

• 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. A swimming pool left untended for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.

• For stagnant pools of water, homeowners can buy Bti products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement centers and other stores. This naturally occurring bacteria kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.

In addition, here are some simple precautions to prevent mosquito bites, particularly for people who are most at risk:

• 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 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.

More information on West Nile virus and the state’s surveillance and control program is available at www.westnile.state.pa.us