Dozens of cases of the West Nile virus have been found in mosquitoes around western Pennsylvania over the past two months, but no humans have been infected yet.
Allegheny, Washington, Beaver and Fayette counties are currently considered “high risk” areas in Pennsylvania, according to state regulators.
Three cases were pinpointed in the area in the past month–most recently on July 26 and July 21–and another case was found in a mosquito in on June 21, according to state records.
Other areas that have been impacted are the city of Pittsburgh with dozens of reports and nine cases in Wilkinsburg since July 3. Other areas that have had sporadic positive tests are (July 26), Emsworth, and Leetsdale (July 19), (July 17), (July 25 and 26) and Bethel Park (July 26).
Allegheny County Health Department officials said there’s no reason to panic, however, because West Nile cases are somewhat common during the summer and no humans have been infected. Still, state Department of Environmental Protection officials are offering easy ways to combat the problems.
The state suggests residents dispose of anything that can hold stagnant water, including discarded tires or pots, which mosquitoes can use to breed. Children’s backyard pools should be turned upside down and bird baths need to be regularly cleaned.
If the West Nile virus is found in your area, easy ways to prevent contracting the disease are by wearing shoes, socks, long-sleeved shirts or pants while outdoors for long periods of time. Also use mosquito repellent if needed and wash clothing and skin when returning indoors.
According to the state, 20 percent of people who become infected will develop a mild case of West Nile fever symptoms, which includes fever, headache, and body aches, with some skin rashes on the body and swollen lymph glands. These symptoms usually subside in a few days, according to the state.
Severe cases include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and even paralysis. The state estimates that 1 in 150 people infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease, which usually lasts for weeks and can sometimes be permanent.
Go to http://www.westnile.state.pa.us to learn more about the West Nile virus in Pennsylvania.