Allegheny County will spray eastern areas for mosquitoes
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In response to mosquito samples repeatedly testing positive for West Nile virus in the East End and Wilkinsburg, the Allegheny County Health Department will spray certain areas of these neighborhoods with mosquito pesticide at dusk on Thursday.
Spraying will be done roughly from 8 to 9 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, spraying will be rescheduled for a later date.
The areas were selected for spraying based on having many positive samples for West Nile collected over several weeks. It is a last resort to prevent the spread of the virus to humans.
The neighborhoods include the lower part of Homewood South, the Point Breeze area around Willard and Edgarton streets and Homewood Cemetery, and the Hunter Park area of Wilkinsburg.
The pesticide, which contains permethrin and piperonyl butoxide, destroys adult mosquitoes but is otherwise very safe and harmless to people and pets. It will be released from a truck-mounted, ultra-low volume sprayer at a rate of 1 to 3 ounces per acre. Storm water catch basins in these neighborhoods already have been treated twice to stop the breeding of mosquitoes.
While mosquitoes and birds pass the virus to each other via mosquito bites, West Nile is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and not by birds carrying the virus.
Health officials urge people to protect themselves from mosquitoes by getting rid of standing water in yards and neighborhoods, using insect repellent on exposed skin and minimizing time spent outdoors during daylight hours -- especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
The public is asked to report certain dead birds -- crows, hawks, owls, blue jays, falcons, ravens and buzzards -- and when five or more dead birds of any species are found in one location. The reports can be filed by calling 412-687-ACHD (2243) or logging on to www.achd.net.
Forty-six mosquito samples in the county have tested positive for West Nile since early July, but no infected birds or human cases have been reported so far this year.
The state Department of Health said the probable infection of an elderly Lebanon County woman with the West Nile virus represents the first in the state this year.
The woman was hospitalized July 22 with high fever and neurological symptoms and currently is recovering.
Usually, the infection does not result in any illness. However, older adults and persons with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of becoming ill from a West Nile infection.
A milder form of infection is known as West Nile fever. In addition to fever, people with this milder form of the disease may also experience headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.
This year, mosquito samples in 54 counties have been identified with West Nile virus.
Last year, 28 human cases of West Nile virus infections resulted in no deaths but it represented the highest number of infections since 2003, when there were 237 documented human cases and nine deaths.
Since 2001, the health department reports, 25 deaths have been caused statewide by the virus.
For more information about West Nile virus, including current test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us or call the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-PA HEALTH.
First Published August 30, 2011 2:21 pm