First human case of West Nile Virus reported in Dauphin County

The first human case of West Nile Virus infection in Dauphin County has been reported, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health. This is only the second human case of WNV infection in the state, with the first occurring in Philadelphia County.

“The first human case in our county serves as a reminder for residents to take protective measures and eliminate standing water,” said Dauphin County Commissioner Chairman Jeff Haste. “Although all residents should take the proper precautions when outdoors, people over age 50 have the highest risk of severe infection.”

Certain species of mosquitoes carry West Nile Virus, which, when transmitted to people, can cause West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain. Symptoms of WNV include fever, headache, body aches, nausea and sometimes swollen lymph glands or skin rash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all residents of areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis.

A total of 31 infected samples have been collected this year in Dauphin County.  Positive samples were collected in the following municipalities: Conewago, Derry, East Hanover, Londonderry, Lower Paxton, Middle Paxton, South Hanover, Susquehanna, Swatara, Washington and Williams townships; the City of Harrisburg; and Millersburg and Steelton boroughs.

“Reduce your risk of getting WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses by avoiding exposure to mosquitoes and eliminating breeding sites,” said Commissioner Mike Pries.

The following tips are recommended:

  • Buy products with Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis)–a naturally-occurring bacteria that kills mosquito larvae but is safe for people, pets and plants–for stagnant pools of water in the lawn and garden.
  • Remove any standing water in pots, containers, pool covers, tires, wheelbarrows, wading pools, roof gutters and other containers that hold water.
  • Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes.
  • Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors, particularly when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, or in areas known for having large numbers of mosquitoes.
  • Reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk during peak mosquito periods, usually April through October.
  • Use insect repellents according to the manufacturer’s instructions. An effective repellent will contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician if you have questions about the use of repellent on children, as repellent is not recommended for children under the age of two months.

“To reduce the mosquito population and prevent the virus from spreading, the county’s WNV Control Program is increasing surveillance and control measures throughout the area,” said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III. “These efforts will continue for the next few months.”

To learn more about WNV and prevention, visit the CDC’s Web site at www.cdc.gov/westnile.  For more information about Dauphin County’s WNV Control Program, contact Christopher Hooper, program coordinator, at 717-921-8100.