NORRISTOWN, Pa. (WLVT) — The first probable human case of West Nile virus was reported in Pennsylvania last week.
It happened in the north central region of the state in Potter County.
"It’s expected that we’ll start to see cases now and through the fall," Erika Machtinger, assistant professor of entomology at Penn State University, told PBS39.
She hopes the mostly dry weather of 2020 will keep mosquito populations low this year.
"It's not like we need anything else to worry about! We’ve had a dry year. In 2018, we had a wet year, it was record-setting. This year, I don’t expect that we’ll see nearly as many overall, due to the lack of rainfall," said Machtinger.
West Nile virus can cause encephalitis, a brain inflammation. To help mitigate the spread of mosquitoes, Steve Gerloff, environmental field services supervisor for the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, says there are things you can do around your yard to lessen the risk.
"Dump out anything that holds water. Look for anything that’s been sitting unmoved for more than three to five days. Mosquitoes love this hot, humid weather and they grow quickly in it," Gerloff told PBS39. "Mosquitoes go through their life cycle in warm stagnant water. In April, it could take three weeks for an egg to hatch and become an adult. In this kind of weather, it could take three to five days."
He says if you spot a neighboring property with stagnant water, ask the owner to dump it out. If they don’t, contact your county health department for help.
"If people police their own properties, that’s a huge help to us, because I don't know what’s going on with individual properties," he said.
To avoid mosquito bites, he recommends wearing insect repellant when outdoors and covering exposed skin with lightweight clothing.
For more information about West Nile virus mitigation, visit Pennsylvania's West Nile Virus Control Program website.