As Centre County heads toward the middle of what has been a wet summer, the number of West Nile virus cases within the county remains low.
Of the 215 positive samples collected in the state so far, only three have come from Centre County, according to the state’s West Nile virus control program.
“Three positives is definitely behind last year’s count for the county,” West Nile program coordinator Bert Lavan said. “With two months to go, we’re well-behind.
“But cases are accelerating,” he warned. “It’s typical to see 10 positives a day, but those numbers are climbing. It’s possible we could match last year’s numbers.”
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According to the control program, 118 of the 372 mosquito samples collected have been tested. No virus has been present in any avian samples collected in the county, and no human cases of West Nile have been reported in the state.
The first case in the county was discovered May 23 in Spring Township, according to the control program. Two were discovered July 15 — one in Harris Township and one in Boggs Township.
Sixteen positive insect samples were discovered in Centre County in 2013. Eleven human positives were found in the state.
But precautions should still be taken, according to the Department of Health, especially in light of the amount of rain across the county this summer.
“We know there’s a correlation between warm, wet weather and mosquito populations,” health department spokesan Wes Culp said.
“Increased rain means increased chances,” Lavan said. “There’s more water out there than normal.”
It typically takes a week for a mosquito to go from an egg to an adult insect, he said. Even if a large mass of standing water is found, if it dries up quickly, there’s no problem.
“But with these daily thunderstorms, all this water doesn’t have a chance to dry,” Lavan said.
The control program treats standing water several times a week, he said.
The state Department of Health is also remaining cognizant of the Chikungunya virus, which has been gaining notoriety in the media. Normally contained to tropical areas, the virus has been appearing in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. A recent case was discovered in Delaware.
Chikungunya typically affects individuals who have traveled outside of the U.S. to tropical zones.
“The mosquito species that are best at (transmitting) that disease are gaining numbers in Pennsylvania,” Lavan said, “but we haven’t seen them in Centre County yet.”
People can help prevent transmission by following safety precautions, Culp said, including wearing long sleeves and pants, wearing mosquito repellent and limiting time near stagnant water.
“It’s easier to wear long sleeves and long pants with all this cool weather we’ve been having,” Lavan said.