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Pa. health department announces first human case of West Nile in 2017

Sewickley Herald - 8/25/2017

A Montgomery County resident tested positive for probable West Nile virus, marking the first human case in Pennsylvania this year, state health officials said last week.

“Detecting the first human case of West Nile virus this year serves as a great reminder for Pennsylvanians to take the proper precautions when they are outside or near areas where mosquitoes are prevalent,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of health. “There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito-related diseases.”

The species of mosquitoes carrying West Nile usually bite at dawn and dusk.

State health officials recommend people use insect repellent containing DEET to avoid bites.

A West Nile infection can sometimes result in brain inflammation. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Department of Environmental Protection has detected West Nile-infected mosquitoes in 36 counties this year, including Westmoreland and Allegheny.

“DEP monitors the mosquito population across Pennsylvania,” said its secretary, Patrick McDonnell. “Today’s announcement serves as a reminder that all Pennsylvanians should take precautions to protect against mosquitoes. Using a personal insect repellent or staying indoors during dawn and dusk will help prevent exposure to mosquitoes.”

No other information about the resident who tested positive, including gender, was released.

Mosquitoes that carry the virus typically breed in standing water in catch basins, gutters, tires, flower pots, swimming pools and other containers.

Recommendations to eliminate standing water around the home include:

• Remove tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires or any object that could collect standing water. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.

• Have roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from nearby trees have a tendency to clog the drains.

• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

• Do not let water stagnate in birdbaths.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, and remove standing water from pool covers.

• Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.

More information, including current West Nile virus test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, is available by visiting www.westnile.state.pa.us. Click on “Surveillance Maps and Tables,” or call 1-877-PA HEALTH.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

 
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