Warmer weather brings West Nile threat

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County’s Health Department urges precautions to avoid breeding, bites

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This Pro-Mist electric ULV sprayer is one of the tools used by the state to control adult mosquitoes that could spread West Nile virus.

The Chester County Health Department reminds Chester residents that along with warmer weather comes mosquito season and the threat of West Nile virus, which first appeared in Pennsylvania in 2000.

In a news release, the county is encouraging residents to take the following precautions to reduce mosquito breeding on their property:

  • Dispose of open containers that may collect water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, etc.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers so that water will not collect.
  • Keep your property clear of old tires.
  • Clean roof gutters, particularly if leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and don’t let water stagnate in birdbaths.
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools when not in use. A swimming pool left untended by a family on vacation for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.
  • For stagnant pools of water that cannot be removed or drained, homeowners can buy BTi products, such as mosquito dunks at lawn/garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. This naturally occurring bacterial product kills mosquito larvae but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.

Personal protection is also important during warmer weather, the release said.  The Health Department recommends simple precautions to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • 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.
  • When possible, reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk during the summer.
  • Use insect repellants. An effective repellant will contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the manufacturer label directions. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician if you have questions about the use of repellant on children, as repellant is not recommended for children under the age of two months.

For more information about the Chester County West Nile virus program, visit http://chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=868.  Residents can be notified about future mosquito spray events by signing up for alerts on the website. In addition, the state has published information on its website: http://www.westnile.state.pa.us.

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