We help reduce problems caused by mosquitoes and ticks.
We provide workshops and information on what to do to reduce the risk of West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and other insect-related illnesses. We also regularly monitor and collect samples of mosquitoes and ticks. When needed, we initiate control of mosquito larvae throughout Westmoreland County.
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West Nile Virus is a virus most commonly spread by certain species of infected mosquitoes. The virus has been detected in 48 states, and first found in Pennsylvania in 2000. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito will not show symptoms. Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever or other symptoms. About 1 in 150 may develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Westmoreland County’s West Nile Virus Program started in 2017 and is a part of Pennsylvania’s West Nile Virus Control Program. The goal is to use integrated mosquito management to reduce mosquito-borne diseases. Integrated mosquito management reduces public health risks from mosquitoes in Westmoreland County using three methods, as follows.
- Education – Conducting public events that focus on mosquito bite prevention, mosquito habitat reduction, and West Nile Virus risks in Pennsylvania.
- Surveillance – The program monitors adult and larval stages of mosquitoes throughout Westmoreland County. Gravid traps are deployed to collect adult female mosquitoes that have already taken a blood meal and are looking to lay their eggs. Potential carriers of West Nile Virus include mosquitoes from the Culex pipiens and Culex restuans species. These species are then tested for the virus. Larval surveillance is conducted by dipping stagnant water.
- Control – When larvae are detected, the following series of events occur to control the mosquito breeding habitat: source reduction, education, biological control agents, and pesticides. Pesticides are used only if no other method will eliminate the larvae. Water quality, non-target organisms, and pest resistance are considered when using pesticides. Most of the pesticides used for larval control are biological, which use bacteria to kill the larvae and are specific to mosquitoes.
West Nile Virus-infected birds transmit the virus to mosquitoes. The program welcomes reports of dead bird sightings, specifically Corvids (jays, crows, and ravens), that appear to be caused by something other than trauma. To report a dead bird, contact the Westmoreland County West Nile Virus technician at 724-837-5271 or file a report online at the Pennsylvania West Nile Virus Control Program website. The program also monitors horse and human cases of West Nile Virus, which are reported by veterinarians and physicians.
Although the focus of the program is West Nile Virus, BG-Sentinel traps are set to target the Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) which could potentially transmit Zika Virus if it were to come to Pennsylvania. These mosquitoes are a daytime nuisance.
West Nile Virus Program Technician