West Nile virus found in boro mosquitoes

By on August 22, 2012

By: REVIEW STAFF, Staff Writer

Ephrata Borough was recently notified that three pools of mosquitoes (two in the vicinity of the Jeff Avenue wetlands and one from the 100 block of West Fulton Street) sampled as part of the county’s bi-weekly mosquito surveillance program tested positive for West Nile Virus.

A pool is a collection of mosquitoes of the same species not exceeding 50 in number. A positive test could indicate as few as one infected mosquito or as many as all mosquitoes in the pool.

The species of mosquito that tested positive, Culex Restuans and Culex Pipiens are mostly bird feeders that amplify the virus. This data is very typical for all counties across the state.

Ephrata Borough Manager Bob Thompson was asked to give some perspective to this new information.

"Infected mosquitoes have only been recently detected in the borough, whereas other areas in the county and surrounding counties have been infected for several months," Thompson said.

So what are the odds someone here may become infected?

"Since the mosquito species identified favor birds, the odds of someone in the Borough becoming infected is very low at this time," he said.

With the high number of positive sites detected countywide, the Lancaster County West Nile Coordinator will be conducting adult spraying throughout the County this week.

The Department of Environmental Protection will apply treatments the evening of Aug. 22, in Manheim Borough and Penn Township, Lancaster County.

The treatments will be administered by truck-mounted equipment to spray open spaces. The equipment dispenses Zenivex at a rate of 1.5 ounces per acre.

These products are designed to provide quick, effective control of adult mosquito populations. The application materials have a very low toxicity profile to mammals and are safe for the environment.

Certain mosquito species carry the West Nile virus, which can cause humans to contract 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 in areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of contracting West Nile encephalitis.

Mosquito samples in 46 counties have been identified with the West Nile virus so far this year. Human cases have been confirmed in Bucks, Centre, Delaware, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and Lehigh counties.

Individuals can take a number of precautionary measures around their homes to help eliminate mosquito-breeding areas, including:

? Disposing of cans, buckets, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers that hold water.

? Properly disposing of discarded tires that can collect water. Stagnant water is where most mosquitoes breed.

? Drilling holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers.

? Having clogged roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains.

? Turning over plastic wading pools when not in use.

? Turning over wheelbarrows and not letting water stagnate in birdbaths.

? Aerating ornamental pools or stocking them with fish.

? Cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools not in use and removing any water that may collect on pool covers.

Treat standing water that cannot be eliminated with BTI products, which are sold at outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. BTI is a natural product that kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.

Additionally, these simple precautions can 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, or in areas known for having large numbers of mosquitoes.

? When possible, 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 lemon eucalyptus oil. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician for questions about the use of repellent on children, as repellent is not recommended for children under the age of two months.

For more information about West Nile virus and the state’s surveillance and control program, visit westnile.state.pa.us.

The Borough will continue its weekly surveillance program until the end of the mosquito season. For more information, contact Jay Snyder, environmental resource manager at 738-9282. More WEST NILE, page A6

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