Counties get state grants to fight West Nile Virus

DEP awarding nearly $2.1 million to 26 counties across Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Berks, Bucks, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe and Montgomery counties are among 26 counties across Pennsylvania that are receiving West Nile Virus Control Program grants from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"These county grants ensure that mosquito populations stay in check to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus," said DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo in a news release. "Locally-based programs play an important role in protecting the public from this perennial problem."

The funding is used to cover costs associated with surveying and controlling mosquitoes that carry the virus. DEP developed the funding proposals in consultation with county officials, based on need.

To reduce the risk of West Nile Virus, DEP and county staffs use a combination of education, source reduction and mosquito control.

Mosquito control is largely done by using larval control products, such as Bti, which is derived from soil bacteria.

If necessary, man-made adult mosquito control products derived from the chrysanthemum flower are used to reduce mosquito populations when they pose an elevated risk of infecting people.

Adult mosquito control products are effective in controlling mosquito populations and pose little to no harmful effect to humans, plants or other animals.

Last year DEP detected 1,213 mosquito samples, 28 avian specimens, two horses and 11 humans infected with the virus in Pennsylvania.

In humans, the virus can cause West Nile fever and encephalitis, an infection that can cause inflammation of the brain and death. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito never develop any symptoms, and only one in 150 people with symptoms will develop the more serious West Nile encephalitis.

Residents are encouraged to remove all standing water from their properties to prepare for mosquito season and prevent infection.

To report a dead bird, file a mosquito complaint or for more information about the vrius,  go online or call 717-346-8243.

The 26 counties are receiving nearly $2.1 million for the program.

Below is the list of the 2014 West Nile Virus Control grant amounts for each county in this part of the state:

Berks - $53,384
Bucks - $144,009
Lehigh - $98,382
Luzerne - $82,800
Monroe - $30,000
Montgomery - $132,408

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