A bird found this week in Harris Township tested positive for West Nile virus, one of the first cases in the state this year.
The virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can cause a fever and in rare cases, an infection that can cause inflammation of the brain. Older people and those with weak immune systems are most at risk of becoming ill and developing complications, according to the state departments of Environmental Protection and Health.
The bird, which was found Tuesday, along with a mosquito sample that was collected May 22 in York County, are the first two cases of West Nile in Pennsylvania this year. Both were announced Friday afternoon.
“DEP vigilantly monitors the mosquito population across Pennsylvania. When West Nile virus is identified, DEP staff works quickly to prevent the spread of the virus,” Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley said in a statement. “Today’s announcement serves as a reminder that all Pennsylvanians should take precautions to protect against mosquitoes.”
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Among the measures homeowners can take, according to DEP and the Health Department are:
• Dispose of cans, buckets, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that hold water.
• Drill drainage holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling bins.
• Have roof gutters cleaned regularly, particularly if leaves tend to block drains.
• Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
• Do not let water stagnate in birdbaths.
• Clean and chlorinate pools and remove any water that may collect on pool covers.
To protect yourself or others from mosquito bites:
• Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, or in areas known for having large numbers of mosquitoes.
• 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. Repellant is not recommended for children younger than 2 months.
For more information about the state’s West Nile program, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us.