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West Nile Virus found in Tyrone Township

t was announced yesterday that West Nile Virus was found in a mosquito trap set by Blair County emergency management in Tyrone Township.
Blair County Coordinator Rodney Bohner was not allowed to disclose the exact location of the findings of the West Nile Virus but did say that it was in the farming/rural area of Tyrone Township.
“So far we have only found one positive in the county, and that’s from mosquitoes,” said Bohner. “DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) is coming up to look around today, and we put out some extra traps in Tyrone Township last night just to get an idea of how many mosquitoes are down that way and how many have the virus.”
According to Bohner last year mosquitoes were found later in the year with the virus. This year mosquitoes were found earlier, so he is not sure if that is an indication of what is to come or not.
He also said so far this year, no birds have been found in the county with West Nile Virus, and there have been no reports of people in the county with West Nile Virus.
“What I’m trying to do is at this point is not to alarm people,” said Bohner, “just tell them to keep eliminating breeding areas for mosquitoes, which is stagnate water, and if they’re out in the evening, put mosquito repellent on.”
Public Relations for the Pennsylvania Department of Health Richard McGarvey explained what is being done at the state level to test for West Nile Virus and the precautions people should take to protect themselves from the virus.
“We’re testing for West Nile Virus all across the state,” said McGarvey. “Each county has what’s called a West Nile Coordinator. That person literally goes out and sets up mosquito traps all over the county, and that person goes around and finds places where there can be mosquitoes breeding, collects and traps them, and we test them here at the health department.”
That is the cycle of testing that mosquitoes go through to be tested for the virus. Blair County Coordinator Bohner sets mosquito traps around the county, and then the mosquitoes are sent to the Department of Environmental Protection to be sorted because only certain types of mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus. The mosquitoes are then sent to the Department of Health laboratory for testing.
McGarvey said last year 62 people in Pennsylvania were diagnosed and tested for West Nile Virus. Out of those 62 people, nine died. He said the people who are most susceptible to the virus are those who are over the age of 60.
It is not only mosquitoes that can carry the virus. Crows, hawks and blue jays are tested for West Nile Virus. According to Bohner, last year’s report from Harrisburg said that a crow tested positive for the virus in Warriors Mark.
“We know we can find the virus anywhere,” said McGarvey. “It is really a warning to people, a reminder to people to take those simple precautions we’ve been telling them about for years now.
“Get rid of standing water in the backyard. A flowerpot full of water sitting there for 10 days can produce hundreds of mosquitoes. Rain gutters that aren’t cleaned out have lots of standing water, again a good place for mosquitoes to grow. Tires with water in them, lots of mosquitoes can come out of those types of areas, and so you can cut down on mosquitoes in your own backyard and reduce your own risk.”
He also said people can personally protect themselves by covering up with more clothes when they go outside and use insect repellent.