Summer is Ending but not the Threat of West Nile Virus: New Tests Discover Virus in College Township
Update: On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced that two crows found in the Scenery Park area of College Township on September 13th have tested positive for West Nile Virus.
The Centre County West Nile Virus Program will conduct additional mosquito trapping in this area to see if there is an infected mosquito population.
A mosquito sample infected with West Nile Virus was found in Harris Township earlier this month. See below for additional details.
Despite the recent cool weather, mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus are still a potential health threat in the State College area.
On Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced that a mosquito sample from Blue Spring Park in Harris Township tested positive for the virus. The mosquito sample was taken on September 6.
"Also, just last week we had a positive test involving a crow in State College Borough," says Bert Lavan the Centre County West Nile Virus Program Coordinator.
According to the DEP website, Centre County has an above average risk for the West Nile Virus. So far this year, two birds have tested postive for the virus along with 12 mosquito samples. Two of the mosquito samples that tested positive were taken in College Township.
Lavan says the number of mosquitoes has declined from earlier in the summer. During June and July, Lavan says he'd catch more than 100 mosquitoes in a trap, and currently, they're averaging about 20 mosquitoes. "We're not anticipating doing any more mosquito spraying this year because the numbers are way down."
But that doesn't mean you should let your guard down.
"The message to people now is to avoid mosquito bites until we get a couple of hard frosts, says Lavan. "As long as mosquitoes are still hatching and there are infected birds, obviously there is a potential threat."
The West Nile Virus, which was first reported in Pennsylvania in 2000, lives in birds and can be passed to humans by mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird. Usually, cases of West Nile Virus are relatively mild in people. However, victims with weak immune systems can suffer serious neurological problems.
No people have been sickened by the West Nile Virus in Centre County this year but statewide seven people have been infected with the virus. All of those cases were reported in southeast Pennsylvania. That number includes one fatality, in Bucks County.
To reduce your risk of contracting the virus you should take precautions against mosquito bites which include wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts and using insect repellant.
Get rid of standing water around your home such as stagnant bird baths and clogged rain gutters. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Click HERE for more information on how to protect your family from the West Nile Virus. You can also contact the Centre County Planning & Community Development Office at (814) 355-6791.