State Spends $2 Million to Control Spread of West Nile Virus

Mar 28, 2013

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is awarding $2.2 million in grants to help counties combat the spread of West Nile Virus this year.

Department spokeswoman Amanda Witman said most people infected with the mosquito born disease will never experience symptoms because their immune systems shut the virus down. But for others, she warned, it can be dangerous.

"This virus can develop into West Nile Fever or West Nile Encephalitis - both of which are infections that cause brain inflammation and in the most severe cases, death," Witman said.

The cost covers staff who set out traps and collect and analyze mosquito samples, as well as mosquito control. That control includes dosing standing water and storm drains with the chemical Bti.

Witman said they also spray to kill the bugs using a derivative of the chrysanthemum flower, and that can get expensive due to the amount of equipment needed to carry out control events.

"They're typically done from spring, off a truck, or off an ATV, but they can also be done aerially from an airplane," she said.

More information about the virus can be found at the state's website. Allegheny County is getting $164,816 for its control efforts.