In Philly area, officials say mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus aren't as abundant as last year

Mike Dougherty
August 07, 2019 - 4:31 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Believe it or not, mosquitoes are more of a concern in densely populated areas than in rural areas, and health officials have been monitoring the mosquito population and testing for West Nile virus in counties in the Philadelphia-area. 

"So far we only have three positive mosquito pools," said Pam Lawn, who works for the Montgomery County Department of Health. "What that means is we set traps every week and the mosquitoes then get sent off to a lab to see if they have the virus."

Last year's total was 405. 

She doesn't know exactly why there's such a drop off, but she emphasized there is still a month and a half to go before the end of the season, and keeping your property free of standing water is very important.

"Gutters and recycle bins, pools, all that stuff needs to be maintained so that mosquitoes can't breed anywhere," Lawn said.

Phil Smith is a bug buster for Bucks County, which has a moderate risk along with Philadelphia for West Nile, according the Pennsylvania Department of Health

"We concentrate, obviously, on the highly populated areas first," Smith said. 

August and September are still very active months for those little pests, and people are the main reason for mosquito breeding because they let water collect.

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"If it sits on your yard for four or more days, in this kind of weather, it's going to breed mosquitoes," Smith added. 

Parts of Croydon, Bensalem and Fairless Hills have the biggest mosquito problems in Bucks. 

Smith's team has been going door to door offering treatments to people who have unused pools in their yards.

"We're going to treat that for you for free," Smith said. "We're going to help you out."

Health officials also say West Nile is often undetected. 

Michele Masters works to prevent communicable diseases in Montgomery County and said eight out 10 people don't even realize they had the virus.

"Flu-like symptoms where you have a headache, body ache, joint pain, fatigue and weakness," Masters said, and noted that sometimes it's more severe. 

But so far, Montgomery County zero cases have been reported in 2019.