Mosquito

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The Allegheny County Health Department will spray select areas with pesticide Thursday evening, following recent samples of mosquitos that tested positive for West Nile Virus.

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Pennsylvania officials are warning people to minimize their exposure to mosquitoes as testing is underway to confirm the suspected first case of human West Nile virus infection in the state this year.

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An elderly woman in Pittsburgh’s East End has contracted West Nile Virus, the first reported case in Allegheny County since 2015.

Allegheny County Health Department officials said, while the disease can’t be spread through human contact, infected mosquito activity is higher this summer than in the previous six years.

Felipe Dana / AP

  Post updated March 29 at 5 p.m. 

The aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the Zika virus is present in Pennsylvania, and there are now 11 confirmed cases of people who became infected with the virus while traveling abroad.

And Allegheny County officials announced Tuesday afternoon the first confirmed case of Zika locally, contracted by a man who had visited "an affected area." 

But public health officials keep saying the risk of contracting the disease is slim to none. Have you ever wondered why?

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  Mosquitos with West Nile virus are turning up in more city neighborhoods and communities, and that means more spraying.

The Allegheny County Health Department opted to fight West Nile in Bloomfield, Polish Hill, Lawrenceville and Stanton Heights with a truck-mounted, Ultra Low Volume sprayer between 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday after recent mosquito samples tested positive for the virus. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded about $2.1 million in grants to 26 counties to combat West Nile Virus.

Allegheny County received $168,114 to study and control the virus-carrying mosquito populations. Philadelphia County got the most at $231,298.

DEP spokeswoman Amanda Witman said West Nile Virus studies are best handled at the local level.

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As if regular old mosquitoes weren’t bad enough, the Allegheny County Health Department is reporting that the Asian tiger mosquito has been found throughout Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.

More common mosquitoes generally bother birds, and people as well, but they're usually most active at dawn and dusk. That’s not the case with this insect.

“The Asian tiger mosquito loves people,” said Health Department entomologist Bill Todaro. “It bites in the morning, it bites in the afternoon and it bites in the evening.”

The Allegheny County Health Department will start treating storm water catch basins in Pittsburgh Monday with pesticide to combat mosquito breeding.

The pesticide, which is nontoxic to humans, pets and aquatic life, does not kill mosquitoes directly, but stops their maturation process. The mosquito eggs become stuck in a larvae stage and are eaten by other organisms.

Dr. Ronald Voorhees, acting director of the health department, said treating the water catch basins makes a serious impact on the mosquito population.

The infected blood suckers are back.

The first two West Nile virus-carrying mosquitos of the season were detected last week in Erie and Adams counties, signaling the start of what could be a long summer.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are advising people to take steps toward mosquito prevention.