Share this article

print logo

Mosquitoes in Erie County test positive for West Nile Virus

Don’t let this stretch of cold weather fool you.

The mosquitoes among us are active, and testing by the state Department of Health discovered that some have been positive for the West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne illness transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent the infection.

Approximately one in five people infected with the virus will develop a fever with other symptoms, said Dr. Gale Burstein, county health commissioner. Surprisingly, the majority of infected individuals will not have any symptoms, she said.

Less than one percent of infected people will develop a serious – sometimes fatal – neurological illness.

“When going outdoors, it is important to cover as much skin as possible with clothing, and to use effective repellent that contains 25 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin,” Burstein said. The health commissioner also warned people to limit their exposure to mosquitoes by avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are particularly active.

Here are some mosquito-fighting tips:

• Do not leave water standing for more than two days without dumping it.

• Change the water in birdbaths and planter bases every two days.

• Change clogged gutters to allow rainfall to drain freely.

• Mosquitoes are attracted to people by odors on skin and carbon dioxide from their breath.

“Through our joint prevention effort, we can halt the spread of West Nile Virus in Erie County,” Burstein said.