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No reports of West Nile virus-positive mosquitos in Franklin Co.

Dry year, controlling historical breeding areas cut down populations

August 11, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- In 2005 and 2006, Franklin County held the dubious honor of having more mosquito samples test positive for West Nile virus than any other county in Pennsylvania. It was a state leader for positive samples in other years.

That changed in 2010.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection had no reports of West Nile virus-positive mosquitos in Franklin County. Its data shows 265 samples were tested.

The county posted 68 positive samples in 2005, 65 in 2006, seven in 2007 and 34 in 2008.

The varying numbers can be attributed to several factors, one of which is that county coordinators learned in the worst years where the diseased mosquitos are, DEP spokesman John Repetz said.

"Because there had been so much activity in Franklin County, the staff has a good handle on specific areas that are historically breeding areas," Repetz said.

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Identifying those spots allows the agency to intercede early and control those populations, he said.

Also, the lack of rain has affected the availability of standing water where mosquitos breed and live, Repetz said. Rapid evaporation is further eliminating those areas, he said.

"The precipitation we've had this year has been very sporadic and widespread. That's actually taking care of eliminating the breeding grounds for mosquitoes," Repetz said.

Repetz said the entire state is faring better this year in regard to West Nile virus. Positive samples are most prevalent in the southeastern portion of Pennsylvania, which has 67 counties.

"They're really concentrated down in that area this year," Repetz said.

The mosquito season started early in Pennsylvania due to warm and wet conditions. It will continue through the first hard frost.

As always, the DEP asks residents to dispose of containers and tires that might collect water on their property, turn over wheelbarrows and plastic wading pools when not in use, and remove clogs from roof gutters.

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