Harborcreek Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Harborcreek Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus

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The West Nile virus has returned to Erie County. Mosquitoes carrying the disease were found in Harborcreek on Monday - it's the first mosquito pool to test positive in Erie County in 2014.

"I think that they're a waste of space on earth," said 11-year-old Jeonna George, of Harborcreek. She's talking about mosquitoes. "I have a mosquito bite right there, and I don't like it."

It's universal annoyance that can become deadly if the biting mosquito carries the West Nile virus.

"A sample that we collected on July 2nd tested positive for the virus. It was a sample collected in Harborcreek Township," said Karen Tobin, the West Nile virus coordinator for the Erie County Department of Health. 

The exact location of the positive testing is kept confidential, but humans contracting the virus is fairly rare - only one out of 150 people bitten by a West Nile-carrying mosquito gets seriously sick, according to the CDC.

Severe symptoms can include high fever, coma, brain swelling, vision loss, and paralysis, to name a few. Symptoms typically emerge three to 14 days after the bite.

But the best tip to prevent contracting the virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

"To protect themselves, individuals should really be using insect repellant that contains DEET. That will help keep the mosquitos away," Tobin said.

While DEET can be a skin irritant, especially for kids, sprays with more DEET are simply more effective.

Eliminating standing water is also critical in mosquito and bite prevention.

"In an old pool, in a bird bath, empty that out. Keep the water fresh so there's not an area for the mosquitoes to breed," Tobin said.

The Erie County Department of Health is managing standing water on a larger scale.

"There are sections of Harborcreek and Millcreek where there's lots of standing water, so we've been trying to find those areas and actually trying to find those areas and treat them, and eliminate the larvae before they can hatch into the adults."

The heavy and frequent rain Erie County has seen only aggravates the problem, creating more areas with standing water.

Next, the department will testing to see how severe the West Nile virus problem is by setting many traps in positive testing area that specifically attract the breed of mosquito carrying the virus. If necessary, they will then eliminate the larvae, and spray in the affected areas.

Residents in neighborhoods that require spraying will get a notification, and see posted signs detailing the when and where of the pesticide sprays.



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