York County commissioners increase mosquito funding
With the Olympics just nine days away and the first reported case of locally transmitted Zika in the United States, York County commissioners voted Wednesday to increase mosquito surveillance funding.
The commissioners approved a grant agreement between York County and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for education, monitoring, surveillance and control of the mosquito populations. The grant is for $33,352.82. It won't be matched by the county.
"The risk for Zika virus coming to York County is still relatively low," said Tom Smith, the York County West Nile virus program administrator. "This grant will provide us with tools and equipment to monitor and fight the Asian tiger mosquito, which is active during the day."
Mosquitoes: Asian tiger mosquitoes, or Aedes albopictus, have been found to carry the Zika virus. The species can be found farther north than the other Zika-carrying type of mosquito, the Aedes aegypti, which is found more in the southern United States.
As of Monday, there have been 51 confirmed cases of Zika in Pennsylvania. There are still 249 cases waiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Three mosquitoes with West Nile virus have been found in York County. Two Culex pipiens mosquitoes carrying West Nile were found, one in Springettsbury Township and one in Monaghan Township. Another West Nile-carrying mosquito was found in Hanover. It was a Culex restuans mosquito. The Culex genus has not been known to carry Zika, according to the CDC.
Protecting yourself: The Department of Health has a list of recommendations for how to protect yourself from possible mosquito bites. These tips include using an EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, using screens on windows that might be open and routinely emptying containers that could hold standing water.
Zika can be transmitted sexually, so the department recommends either avoiding sexual contact with a partner who traveled to a Zika-affected area or using a condom correctly each time you have sex.
Doctors and epidemiologists are still working on answering questions people have about Zika and its link to birth defects and other issues.
To stay up to date on Zika and its spread, visit the CDC website.
— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDKatherine.