LAWRENCE COUNTY Officials increase testing after West Nile confirmed



Workers are testing mosquitoes in the spot where the dead bird was found.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County officials are on the lookout for dead birds after the first case of West Nile virus was detected last week in a dead bird found in the city's south side.
Janice Alberico of the Pennsylvania State Cooperative, the county's West Nile coordinator, said they have stepped up mosquito testing in the area near where the dead crow was found to determine if more West Nile is present. It was one of four birds tested recently and the only one found to have the virus, she said.
Alberico said the bird was turned in July 19 and they got the results of testing last Tuesday. She said this is about the same time infected birds were being reported to her office last year.
In 2003, Lawrence County had three humans infected with West Nile, six dead birds and three mosquito pools.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, a brain inflammation. Most people who get the virus do not suffer serious illness but it can be deadly for those with weakened immune systems. Infected mosquitoes pass the virus onto birds, animals and people.
Alberico said people should remove all standing water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes; and people should use mosquito repellent.
She said she is in charge of the surveillance program that will spray mosquitoes if West Nile is found, but it is not a general mosquito eradication program. Her office has received calls from people wanting mosquito spraying.
"Most of the mosquitoes we've had are nuisance mosquitoes. We aren't taking it lightly, but we can't just spray. This is a disease intervention program," she said.
Alberico said the area near Progressive Field in Mahoningtown was recently sprayed.
cioffi@vindy.com

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