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Franklin Co. to get sprayed for West Nile

August 30, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Late tonight, Franklin County will become the only rural area of Pennsylvania to be aerially sprayed this year for mosquitoes capable of transmitting the West Nile virus.

A plane flying overhead from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. Thursday will be misting Pyrocide 7396 over the boroughs of Chambersburg and Orrstown along with Lurgan, Southampton, Greene, Guilford, Hamilton and Letterkenny townships.

The mist stays in the air and kills mosquitoes on contact, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

"There's absolutely no risk to people," DEP spokeswoman Sandra Roderick said.

Franklin County was selected for the second aerial spraying of the year because it has the highest number of positive West Nile virus tests in 2006.

"We know there are a lot of mosquitoes down there," Roderick said. The DEP reports positive results in 24 mosquitoes, three sentinel chickens and one bird.

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A sentinel chicken is one used for the purpose of testing its blood for the virus, said Raymond Eckhart, who is the county's West Nile virus coordinator. Positive tests show the chicken was bitten, he said.

Franklin County has no reported cases of humans contracting West Nile virus this year, although five are reported across Pennsylvania. Franklin County reported four positive human cases in 2005.

Roderick, who noted the City of Philadelphia was sprayed from the air in early 2006, said the number of positive cases in Franklin County is higher this year, although Eckhart said the figures are comparable.

Roderick described the aerial sprays as an aggressive action to reduce the spread. The county has been sprayed by trucks several times over the summer, she said.

Although mosquito testing has been done all over the county, the approximately 40,000 acres chosen for aerial spraying have the concentrations of positive results, Eckhart said.

"The county West Nile coordinator and our department have been putting out traps," Roderick said.

The spraying will be limited to the selected boroughs and townships through familiarity with the area, Roderick said.

No further aerial spraying has been scheduled, she said.

A comprehensive look at Pennsylvania's West Nile Virus Surveillance Program can be found at www.westnile.state.pa.us. The site is managed by several state agencies.

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