York and Adams counties tied for second in the state in terms of West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes last year.
Now, the state Department of Environmental Protection has awarded York, Adams and 24 other counties nearly $2.1 million in West Nile Virus Control Program grants.
York gets the fifth-most money, with $114,240 — $3,000 more than last year, said Tom Smith, the county's West Nile Virus Program administrator.
"Compared to the funding we would get 10 years ago, it's much lower, but we still do the best we can with what's provided," he said.
Adams and Lancaster counties received considerably smaller grants: $73,972 and $61,020, respectively.
Budget: York's grant covers the West Nile Virus Program's mosquito surveillance costs, as well as the salaries of Smith and two seasonal employees, he said.
"The budget actually works out to be 30 cents per (York County) resident," Smith said.
This year's extra $3,000 will go toward additional educational promotion activities, including a billboard that will appear this summer in locations around the county, Smith said.
West Nile can cause fever and meningitis in humans and is usually transferred through bites from infected mosquitos.
That's why the program focuses on areas that are at a higher risk for the virus instead of areas that only have nuisance problems, he said.
Mosquito season: The cold, harsh winter has kept the mosquito population low, and for the next three to four weeks, it will probably stay low, Smith said.
But once it does warm up, we can expect the blood-suckers to return, he said.
"Probably by Memorial Day weekend, things can be back to normal for mosquito populations," Smith said.
The best way to prevent mosquitos and West Nile is cleaning up, as the bugs breed in stagnant water held in buckets and old tires and lay 300 eggs at a time, he said.
And there's a timely way to help: The Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania began on March 1 and continues through the end of May.
To volunteer at a cleanup event, view the list at www.gacofpa.org.
"If people continue to clean up, then mosquito populations will go down," Smith said.
— Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.