As fall approaches, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s West Nile virus control program is continuing to report confirmations of the virus in mosquito samples collected around the area.
Last month the virus was confirmed elsewhere in Northampton County with positive test results for mosquitoes collected in both Wilson and the City of Easton. The virus has also been confirmed in mosquito samples collected in various Lehigh County municipalities, including the city of Allentown.
So far this year West Nile virus has been found in mosquitoes collected in every county in southeastern Pennsylvania, as well as in various counties throughout the state.
However, no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported thus far this year.
The number of West Nile virus confirmations typically rises as the season progresses, peaking late in the summer.
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.