Department of Health and Department of Environmental Protection Report First Human Case of West Nile Virus in Pennsylvania in 2018

Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120




Nate Wardle, DOH


Neil Shader, DEP


Department of Health and Department of Environmental
Protection Report First Human Case of West Nile Virus in Pennsylvania in

Pennsylvanians Reminded to Take Steps to Avoid Infection

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania’s first
probable human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) infection in 2018 has been
detected in an Allegheny County resident. Samples are being sent 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 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,”
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “With our recent heavy
rains, Pennsylvanians may see an increase in mosquito activity. 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 repellants 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. So far, DEP has detected WNV-infected mosquitoes in 48 counties.


“Today’s announcement reminds all Pennsylvanians to be vigilant and
take precautions to protect against mosquito bites. Using a personal
insect repellant or staying indoors during dawn and dusk will help
prevent exposure to mosquitoes,” said Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP
monitors mosquito populations across Pennsylvania for the presence of


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 and click on Surveillance Maps and Tables, or call 1-877-PA HEALTH.


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