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Department of Health Reports First Human Cases of West Nile Virus in Pennsylvania in 2022

07/15/2022

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania’s first probable human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) infection in 2022 have been detected in Berks, Lancaster, Luzerne, and Philadelphia counties. The specimens will be forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmatory testing. The departments of Health and Environmental Protection strongly recommend that all residents minimize their exposure to mosquitoes. 

“Detecting the first human case serves as a reminder for Pennsylvanians to take the proper precautions when they are outside or near areas where mosquitoes are prevalent,” Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito-related diseases.” 

Although mosquitoes can bite at any time of the day or night, the mosquitoes that transmit WNV are most active at dawn and dusk. When outdoors, people can avoid mosquito bites by properly and consistently using DEET-containing insect repellents and covering exposed skin with lightweight clothing. To keep mosquitoes from entering a home, make sure window and door screens are in place and are in good condition. 

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducts regular surveillance and control to manage mosquito populations around the state. As of July 15, 2022, DEP and county vector programs have detected 68 WNV-infected mosquito pools in 19 counties. 

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

The mosquitoes that transmit WNV breed in areas with standing and stagnant water. These areas can include urban catch basins, clogged gutters, discarded tires, poorly maintained swimming pools, flower pots and other types of plastic containers. 

Simple steps 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. 

  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. 

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

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

  • Treat standing water that cannot be eliminated with Bti products which are sold at outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. Bti is a natural product that kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants. 

DEP will continue to survey affected communities to monitor mosquito activity and WNV. DEP biologists have initiated a survey of the mosquito population to determine the risk for further human illness. If necessary, adult mosquito populations will be reduced. These efforts will continue through October. 

For a fact sheet on WNV, including symptoms, please click on the Department of Health’s West Nile Virus Fact Sheet

For more information, including current WNV test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, visit the West Nile Virus Control Program, or call 1-877-PA HEALTH. 

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:   

DOH, Mark O’Neill, ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov 
DEP, Jamar Thrasher, jthrasher@pa.gov, 717-319-1758 

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