Mosquito Sample Tests Positive For West Nile Virus

Earliest Virus Has Been Detected Here Since County Started Surveillance

The Allegheny County Health Department today reported that a mosquito sample collected last week is the first in the County this year to test positive for the West Nile virus. 

The mosquito sample was collected in Pittsburgh’s East End on May 18, the earliest for the County’s first positive sample of the season since mosquito trapping and testing began over ten years ago.

In response to the earlier-than-usual detection of West Nile, the Health Department is moving up plans to treat storm water catch basins with pesticides to combat the breeding of mosquitoes and will begin the treatments in selected areas of Pittsburgh on June 11 instead of later in the month.

Any catch basin that holds water is a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes during the heat of summer.  Treatment with pesticides can keep mosquito larvae from emerging into full-fledged adults capable of spreading disease to humans. The pesticides, which are non-toxic to people, pets and aquatic life, are deposited manually into catch basins. 

Health officials say residents can help reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water and treating breeding sites on their own property.  Inexpensive but effective pesticides similar to what the Health Department uses are available at hardware stores and home improvement centers.

People also can protect themselves from mosquitoes by closing openings to their house, using window screens, applying insect repellent, wearing long-sleeve tops and pants, and avoiding outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more likely to bite.

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