Grab the bug spray: Chances of contracting West Nile are higher than ever

Lynne Adkins
August 07, 2018 - 9:29 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Protecting yourself from mosquito bites is more important that ever.

A mosquito bite can do more than make you itch — it can give you West Nile virus. 

Matt Helwig, a biologist with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said your chances of contracting the virus are better than ever because the number of infected insects is 50 percent higher than ever recorded. Outbreaks of the disease have been documented since 2000.

"We believe it has to do with how much rain we've gotten and how hot it's been," he explained. "When you get a lot of rain it produces a lot of habitat for mosquitoes to reproduce themselves, and when you have a lot of heat they do that more quickly."

He said the areas with the worst problems include Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.