This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST CHESTER — While the Zika virus hasn’t been found in any mosquitoes in Chester County, the same can’t be said for the West Nile virus, which was identified in a mosquito sample collected in Tredyffrin July 7.
The Chester County Health Department sets traps up in highly populated areas, known mosquito breeding areas and places where a resident has previously had a confirmed case of the West Nile virus, all to collect and test mosquitoes for the virus.
All the previously tested samples came back negative in 2016 until the sample from Tredyffrin.
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“The Chester County Health Department will continue to monitor these areas, as well as surrounding areas, and will consider mosquito control activities when appropriate,” the county Health Department said in a release.
West Nile virus is arthropod-borne and is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes, which get the virus when they feed on infected birds. The mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The virus can also be spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants and from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding, though the CDC says only in a very small number of cases.
West Nile has been found in all 48 contiguous states and typically pops up every summer.
There is no vaccine for the virus and usually people will show symptoms anywhere from two to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
According to the CDC, 70 percent to 80 percent of people who become infected do not develop any symptoms, but roughly one-in-five people will develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash.
Less than 1 percent infected will develop a serious neurologic illness of encephalitis or meningitis and some of the neurological effects may become permanent.
The CDC warns that different types of mosquitoes will bite during different times of the day. Those carrying Zika primarily bite during the daytime, but those infected with West Nile will bite evening through the morning.
“The chances of contracting West Nile virus from an infected mosquito are small and chances of becoming seriously ill are even smaller,” the county Health Department said in its release.
However, the Health Department is urging Chester County residents to protect themselves and their homes to reduce the risk of West Nile and any mosquito-borne diseases:
- Limit outdoor activities at dawn and dusk during the warmer months.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Choose clothing that is light-colored and made of tightly-woven material.
- Make sure windows and doors have screens without tears.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellents.
- Cover or empty containers, such as trash cans, wading pools, wheelbarrows and pots, or turn the containers upside-down to prevent them from collecting water.
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers.
- Dispose of old tires.
- Change the water in bird baths every three to five days.
- Check storm drains, window wells and underneath leaky faucets for standing water.
- Clean roof gutters every year.
- Aerate or stock ornamental ponds with fish.
- Keep swimming pools clean and chlorinated and make sure water does not gather on the covers.
- Treat a pool of standing water that cannot be drained with Bti products.
- If spending time outside, run electric fans nearby to keep mosquitoes away.
- Replace outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights, which attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights.