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West Nile virus confirmed in Erie County

The first positive test in 2015 for West Nile virus in a mosquito pool in Erie County has been identified, public health officials reported Wednesday.

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. About one in five people who are infected develop flu-like symptoms and, in a small number of cases, the infection can cause more serious, even fatal, illness.

“We have not had a confirmed case of West Nile Virus in Erie County since October 2012, and we want to ensure it stays that way,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “I want to remind residents to minimize exposure to mosquitoes by limiting outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity, such as dusk and dawn.”

She advised that when going outdoors individuals should cover as much skin as possible with clothing and to use an effective repellent, such as those that contain 25 percent to 30 percent DEET.

Health officials also offered tips for reducing the chance of exposure. They include eliminating sites with standing water where mosquitoes can breed, and using netting around playpens and strollers.