Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mosquitoes In Bucks County Positive For West Nile Virus

(previously published here at

A Newtown Township park in Bucks County is the first location in the five-county Philadelphia area where the West Nile virus in mosquitoes have been found this year, report state and county officials.

The West Nile virus is carried by insects and primarily affects birds and animals, but if transmitted to humans, could cause inflammation of the brain.

The infected mosquitoes were part of a test sample taken from Tyler State Park, located in Newtown Township and Northampton, last week by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which is responsible for West Nile monitoring in the state park, who notified county health officials about the test results on Wednesday.

Although the DEP were unable to note the specific area from which the positive sample was taken, "if it's found in one spot, it's in the [general] area," agency spokesman Tom Rathbun told (The Doylestown) The Intelligencer. He suggested that area residents take extra precautions, such as wearing long-sleeved clothing when possible and removing standing bodies of water.

According to the state department of health, six counties in Pennsylvania have confirmed presence of virus-carrying mosquitoes this year, each instance of which involved one positive test.

State efforts to combat and prevent the West Nile virus from spreading from insects and animals to humans can include spraying insecticides and injecting mosquito breeding areas to prevent the larva from maturing into adults.

Spraying began this past Monday night, prior to the DEP test coming back positive, and according to Mr. Rathbun, the state plans more frequent, concentrated spraying to target both adult mosquitoes and their larva.

A good sign is that after the first round of spraying, the insect traps yielded fewer virus-carrying mosquitoes than they had prior, said Paul Smith, Bucks County's West Nile virus coordinator.

In 2006, Bucks County had the most mosquito samples in the state, 20 percent of the total reported 223 positive samples in Pennsylvania. In recent years, fewer birds and horses have tested positive for West Nile virus, while positive results in mosquito samples have increased from six in 2004 to 41 in 2006.

Heather J. Chin can be reached at

©The Evening Bulletin 2008

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