What you need to know to fight the bite
For most people, insects are a pest. For others, they are a business.
The latter category, represented by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, staged a presentation July 30 at Bethlehem City Hall on how to get them out of your life.
One bug on the “least wanted list” is mosquitos. Jeffrey Carroll, Pa. DEP regional program coordinator, noted that mosquitos, besides being major pests, can also carry various diseases. Carroll focused much of his presentation on one - West Nile Virus.
WNV, as it is called, is such a concern the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania created an endeavor anointed the Pennsylvania West Nile Virus Control Program to deal with it. The plan seeks to reduce human exposure to mosquitoes, health care costs, and the financial impact that a WNV outbreak would have on region and its industries, such as agriculture, fishing, hunting and tourism.
Make no mistake, WNV is a serious disease that can, in rate instances, cause encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.
“Mosquitoes acquire the disease from feeding on infected birds,” Carroll said. “They transmit the virus by feeding on the next bird, animal or person.”
The good news is that that WNV is not spread by person-to-person contact. There is also no evidence that people can get the virus by handling infected animals.
If someone is infected, there’s a 20 percent chance they’ll develop a mild infection called West Nile Fever. The symptoms included fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. One in 150 will develop a severe infection called West Nile encephalitis.
Carroll said the program’s comprehensive strategy emphasizes mosquito control efforts, which rely on human, animal and mosquito surveillance. Using a series of slides, Carroll discussed how the agency collects and test mosquito samples.
“The mosquito control efforts are focused on aggressive early season larviciding,” he said. This is needed to prevent the seasonal amplification and speard of the virus.
During the evening, Carroll emphasized more than once that best way to reduce the risk at your home is to reduce stagnant organic sources of water.
“Do what you can to reduce standing water around your homes,” he said.
Old tires, tin cans, bucket and flowerpots are items that collect water. Some less obvious ones are corrugated downspouts and gutters.