August 09, 2017

This year's first human case of West Nile in Pa. traced to Montgomery County resident

Viruses Mosquitoes
05302017_mosquito_Zika_iStock TacioPhilip /iStock.com

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This year's first probable human case of the West Nile virus infection in Pennsylvania has been traced to a Montgomery County resident, the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Environmental Protection announced in a news release Wednesday.

The departments, which regularly monitor mosquito populations across the state, have identified insects carrying West Nile in 36 counties, including Philadelphia, in 2017. 

Sixteen people were confirmed with having the virus last year. 

Officials urge residents to be cautious when spending time outside, especially in late summer months when mosquito populations that can carry viruses and diseases are typically high. A number of counties across the southeastern part of Pennsylvania have been identified as West Nile virus "hot zones."

“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,” Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine said in a news release. “There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito-related diseases.”

Mosquitoes are active during dawn and dusk and breed in stagnant water that collects in places like catch basins, discarded tires and flower pots. The department of health recommends that people hanging outdoors use insect repellent and cover skin with lightweight clothing when possible. Use screen protectors to help keep mosquitoes from traveling inside as well.

State officials also recommend that residents allow standing water to drain whenever possible as well to deter the insects.

The DEP will continue to monitor mosquitoes throughout the state until October. Problem areas will be sprayed to reduce mosquito populations when needed, according to the DEP.

About 80 percent of those infected with West Nile virus do not exhibit symptoms, but others can develop high fever, headaches, stiff neck and disorientation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that those who think they may have contracted the virus consult a medical professional. Over-the-counter and pain relievers are often used to control symptoms.