Pa. records first cases of human West Nile virus

Published: Aug 06 2012 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 08 2012 07:09:30 AM EDT
West Nile virus_mosquito
BERKS COUNTY, Pa. -

Pennsylvania has its first two human cases of the West Nile Virus this year.

Since May, more than 50 mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus in Berks County. The Department of Environmental Protection is taking every measure to keep residents safe.

We're four months into mosquito season. And the State Department of Environmental Protection has its first two human cases of West Nile Virus-- in Franklin and Lancaster counties.

"We will certainly ramp up our surveillance efforts in those area, but more important than that,we are ramping up our control efforts," said Amanda Witman with the DEP.

The DEP says more than 1200 mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile in 2011. So far this year, they're reporting a record 1,300 positives in mosquitoes.

Witman says the DEP bases the severity on infection rates, which is the likely minimum estimates of infected mosquitoes for every 1,000 the department collects.

Based on infection rates, Witman says 2003 was the last highest record year.

And this year is expected to exceed that.

DEP officials say the increase is likely due to last year's mild winter, making Pennsylvanians even more prone to contracting the West Nile virus.

"We are conducting additional spray activities," Witman said.

In Berks County, Exeter Township and St. Lawrence Borough have had mosquitoes test positive for the virus.

"We have detected a heightened level of moquito population in that area," Witman said.

DEP is addressing those trouble spots by spraying to get rid of the bugs.

Since May, traps set in the county have captured 601 mosquitoes; 57 tested positive.

These blood suckers are most active at dawn and dusk.

Witman says mosquitoes that carry West Nile breed in areas with stagnant water, like flower pots, clogged gutters, bird baths, and poorly maintained swimming pools.

The DEP is advising people to take action to help prevent this surge from continuing to spike.