The first mosquito to test positive for West Nile virus in the Lehigh Valley this season has been found in the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania’s West Nile Virus Control Program confirmed Tuesday.
Also on Monday two more cases of the virus were confirmed in mosquito samples taken in Philadelphia, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which administers the program.
That brings the total number of confirmed mosquito cases in Philadelphia to six.
So far this year no mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in Northampton County, however there have been positive mosquito samples collected in lower Bucks County as well as Berks and Delaware counties within the past few weeks.
No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported thus far in 2019 in Pennsylvania.
The number of reported cases typically rises as summer progresses, peaking late in the season.
West Nile virus can cause a variety of symptoms in humans, including headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and rash, although most infected people (about 80 percent) do not develop any symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
In rare cases, the virus can lead to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord). Among people who develop these serious symptoms approximately one in 10 will die, according to the CDC.
“Severe illness can occur in people of any age; however, people over 60 years of age are at greater risk,” the CDC says. “People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk.”
The CDC recommends using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants while outside to help avoid contact with mosquitoes which could be carrying the virus.
Find tips here about what kinds of mosquito repellent to use, and how to apply it.
The CDC also recommends adopting the following measures to help control the mosquito population in and around your home or place of business:
- Use window and door screens and repair any holes in screens to help keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use air conditioning when possible.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened-in rooms are not available or if you are sleeping outside.
- Mosquitoes lay their eggs near water. Once a week, turn over, cover or throw away any items that hold standing water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots and trash containers.