A bird as well as mosquito samples from Upper Macungie Township have tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to state officials.
Mosquitos in neighboring South Whitehall and Weisenberg Townships have also tested positive for the virus.
This year, Pennsylvania reported the of a West Nile virus-carrying mosquito since testing began in 2000.
The infected mosquito was found May 3 in Berks County. Typically, the state’s first West Nile virus-carrying mosquito is found in mid-June.
for West Nile virus last September. The county has 14 insect or animal samples that have tested positive for the virus so far this year.
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.
Last year, West Nile virus was detected in 59 counties, resulting in six human cases reported statewide. There have been no human cases in Pennsylvania yet this year.
There is no human vaccine for the virus.
The best defense is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water around homes, weeds, tall grass, shrubbery and discarded tires.
- 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 so residents should:
- 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.
For stagnant pools of water, homeowners can buy Bti products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. Bti is a naturally occurring bacteria 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.
- 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 2 months.