WILKES-BARRE — The state Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday found Luzerne County’s first West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito of the summer in Wilkes-Barre, a little late in the season for the irritating bug.
This year’s first sighting is on par with a late first appearance last year, DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said. But, by this time last year, there had been more incidents, she said.
Since 2008 mosquitoes carrying the virus first appeared in early June, Connolly said.
“We don’t really have any scientific reason why it’s happening later this year,” she said. “But still, be on your guard.”
Regardless of the smaller showing, the department is ramping up efforts to control West Nile Virus, a disease carried largely by mosquitoes and birds.
Connolly suggested following the state’s guide for preventing West Nile, which starts with getting rid of standing water.
“We recommend, above all, get rid of any standing water, especially after (Tuesday night’s) storm,” she said.
Pool covers, bird baths, wheelbarrows and water gardens can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes if left unattended.
The Luzerne County Conservation District, a local environmental protection agency, warns that mosquitoes can procreate in water standing still for more than four days.
Applying bug spray, especially to the feet and ankles, and wearing long-sleeved shirts are good ways to ward off mosquitoes when outdoors, Connolly said.
Humans who contract West Nile seldom show symptoms; about 70 percent to 80 percent are not affected at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 20 percent will have non-life threatening symptoms, including fever, vomiting, diarrhea or rashes.
Fewer than 1 percent of those infected could develop neurological symptoms, including seizures, paralysis, high fever and disorientation, the CDC says.
There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for West Nile. It can be treated, however, with pain and fever medicine.