WEST CHESTER – May 5, 2017 – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today Chester County will receive $98,000 in state grant funding to survey and control mosquitos that carry the West Nile (WNV) or Zika virus.
“These funds can go a long way in helping to reduce the risk of dangerous mosquito-borne illness in our region,” Dinniman said. “Both West Nile and the Zika virus can pose a serious threat to our health. I encourage residents to do their part by removing or cleaning up potential mosquito-breeding sites where stagnant water can collect, like old tires, bird baths, or uncovered trash cans.”
The grants, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and funded through the General Fund, were developed in consultation with county officials and are largely based on the historic occurrence of mosquito species that can carry WNV and/or Zika virus.
DEP annually partners with counties to cover the costs associated with surveying and controlling mosquitoes that can carry WNV, and for 2017, Zika virus. DEP and county programs use a combination of education, surveillance, source reduction, and environmentally responsible insecticides to reduce the risk of WNV and Zika virus.
“DEP is committed to preventing the spread of mosquito-borne disease in Pennsylvania,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “County governments use this grant funding to identify and control mosquitoes associated with West Nile and Zika virus using the safest, most effective integrated pest management practices available.”
The most common species of mosquito that carries Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, has not been found in Pennsylvania since 2002. However, another species that can carry the virus, Aedes albopictus, is prevalent in southern Pennsylvania counties, especially in the southeast. Last year, there were no cases of Zika virus that were the result of local transmission; Zika cases in 2016 were all travel related.
Mosquitoes that can carry WNV are found in all of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties.
In 2016 there were 16 confirmed human cases of WNV in Pennsylvania with Chester County reporting its first human case ever.
Simple, commonsense preventative measures are critical in reducing mosquito populations. DEP encourages Pennsylvanians to remove standing water from their property and use insect repellents outdoors to prepare for mosquito season and prevent infection.
Birds can be carriers of WNV, and DEP tests dead birds for WNV to determine the virus’ presence in the environment. To report a dead bird, file a mosquito complaint, or for more information about WNV, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us or call 717-346-8243. Zika virus is not carried by birds. For more information on Zika virus, please visit www.health.pa.gov.