West Nile Virus Testing Underway in Centre County
June 11, 2019 2:12 PM
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In an effort to find and treat West Nile virus infected mosquitoes, the testing of mosquitoes and dead birds is underway statewide and in Centre County.

The Centre County West Nile Virus Surveillance and Control program currently will accept dead birds that local residents have discovered and will send them to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in Harrisburg for testing. PADEP limits testing to crows, blue jays, hawks and owls.

This is in addition to the monitoring of WNV in mosquitoes, which began April 16.

Managed by the County Planning and Community Development Office and funded by a PADEP grant, the Centre County program has licensed personnel who will trap adult mosquitoes in populated areas of the county and ship them to PADEP, where they will be identified by species. The adult species capable of transmitting WNV will be tested for the virus. If personnel find a WNV-positive mosquito or large numbers of a species capable of infecting humans, they are licensed to treat breeding areas with pesticides.

Adult mosquito trapping is conducted in through Sept. 30.

Residents are advised to eliminate any sources of standing water, such as unused swimming pools, stagnant ornamental ponds, poorly functioning roof gutters and, especially, used tires. Where it is feasible, clean out poorly functioning storm water systems to eliminate standing water.

State funding requires the program to focus on finding and treating WNV-infected mosquito populations, and not to function as a general nuisance mosquito spray program. However, residents with complaints should contact the program so that county personnel can trap mosquitoes in the affected area to test for WNV, and to evaluate the mosquito population level. If mosquito numbers are found to be unacceptably high, even of a non-WNV species, personnel are prepared to provide adult mosquito spraying at no cost.

Anyone who is aware of wet areas that are breeding large amounts of mosquitoes is asked to contact the county Planning and Community Development Office at (814) 355-6791. If treating with pesticides is indicated, permission from landowners or responsible authorities will be obtained before proceeding.

WNV is a mosquito-borne disease that produces severe neurological symptoms in about 1 percent of humans that become infected as the result of a bite by a WNV-infected mosquito.

Pennsylvania has about 50 species of mosquitoes; of these, 12 are capable of infecting humans with WNV.

In 2018, Centre County had 90 positive tests for West Nile Virus, including 18 from birds, 57 from mosquitoes and 11 from horses. There were four human cases in the county. Across the state, there were 7,198 positive tests on mosquitoes, birds and horses and 130 human cases reported statewide.

Residents with questions may contact (814) 355-6791, or visit the website at www.centrecountypa.gov.

Reduce your risk of becoming infected by mosquitoes carrying the virus by following these steps:

- If outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, dress in light-colored, long-sleeved clothing, long pants and socks. Apply mosquito repellent with DEET to clothing and exposed skin in accordance with label directions;

- Maintain your swimming pool. Neglected pools can be ideal sources for larval development of the mosquito species that transmits West Nile Virus;

- Discard any outdoor container that might hold water, or empty water from wading pools and birdbaths, once a week. Remove old tires that are holding water. Clean gutters that may be clogged as well as any poorly functioning storm water systems that may be holding water;

- Keep grass cut short and shrubbery around the house trimmed so that adult mosquitoes will not hide there;-

- To prevent mosquito larvae development, do not dump grass clippings into low lying areas that collect water after a rainfall. Using a mulching lawnmower can help eliminate grass clipping disposal.

Report dead birds on your property to the Centre County WNV coordinator by visiting www.westnile.state.pa.us or call (717) 346-8243.

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