West Nile Virus Program
In 2000, West Nile virus appeared for the first time in Pennsylvania in birds, mosquitoes and a horse. To combat the spread of West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, Pennsylvania has developed a comprehensive network. This network, which covers all 67 counties, includes trapping mosquitoes, collecting dead birds and monitoring horses, people and sentinel chickens.
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. It is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis virus which is also found in the United States. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and some other mammals.
How does the WNV Program work?
The West Nile Virus Coordinator, under the direction of the Commissioners and the District, administers the Program. The focus of the program is to inform the public through educational programs and to monitor Sullivan County for the West Nile Virus by trapping mosquitoes and dipping for larvae. Also, treat areas infested with vector species of mosquitoes in compliance with CDC (Center for Disease Control) Guidelines. The Adult mosquito samples are routinely collected and sent to a laboratory in Harrisburg to be tested for WNV.
Intern dipping larvae
What can I do?
West Nile Virus is a disease that is spread by infected mosquitoes. So the best defense against the West Nile Virus is not giving them a place to breed.
Here are some things you can do around your home.
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have collected on your property.
- Pay special 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. Both provide breeding habitats for domestic mosquitoes.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use. A swimming pool left untended by a family on vacation 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.
It is not necessary to limit any outdoor activities, unless local officials advise you otherwise. However, you can and should try to reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. In addition to reducing stagnant water in your yard, make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.
What if WNV is found near my home?
If West Nile virus is found in your area, here are some ways you can protect yourself.
- Take normal steps to prevent insect bites.
- Wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are most active.
- Consider the use of mosquito repellent, according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors. Wash all treated skin and clothing when returning indoors.
- Click here for the CDC's latest information on the use of DEET in Insect Repellent Use and Safety.
- Remember, electromagnetic and ultrasound devices and Vitamin B are not effective in preventing mosquito bites.
For More Information, contact:
Jay Maneval, WNV Coordinator at DEP North Central Region Office
Information for this web page was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control site and DEP's West Nile Virus site.
DEP West Nile Virus site
Centers for Disease Control site