The first West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito of the year has been detected, state officials announced Friday.
The infected mosquito was found May 13 in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, state officials said.
In years past, the state’s first West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito was found in mid-June, according to officials. Last year, West Nile virus was detected in 42 counties, resulting in 11 human cases reported statewide.
“DEP is committed to monitoring the mosquito population, so that when the virus is identified, our staff are able to act quickly to prevent additional spread,” DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said.
Certain mosquito species carry the virus, which may cause humans to contract West Nile fever or West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in inflammation of the brain, according to a press release issued by the state.
Older adults and those with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk of becoming ill and developing severe complications.
“During a time of year when we tend to spend more time enjoying the outdoors, we must remember to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said Secretary of Health Michael Wolf. “There are easy steps we can all take to help keep our families healthy and safe.”
State officials offered the following tips to reduce the existence of mosquitos:
- Dispose of cans, buckets, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers that hold water on your property.
- Properly dispose of discarded tires that can collect water. Stagnant water is where most mosquitoes breed.
- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers.
- Have roof gutters cleaned regularly, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to block drains.
- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
- Turn over wheelbarrows and don’t let water stagnate in birdbaths.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use and remove any water that may collect on pool covers.
- 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.
- Use insect repellants according to the manufacturer’s instructions. An effective repellant will contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician if you have questions about the use of repellant on children, as repellant is not recommended for children under the age of two months.