Pennsylvania Health Officials Report Pennsylvania's First West Nile Virus Death of 2003

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson today confirmed that an 81-year-old Chester County man, infected with West Nile virus, died yesterday. He was hospitalized in early September with encephalitis in a Chester County hospital. This is the first death due to West Nile virus this year in Pennsylvania.

"The unfortunate nature of this gentleman's death reminds us that West Nile virus is here in Pennsylvania, that it can be life- threatening and that we all must continue to take precautions against the virus," Johnson said.

Health officials also reported three additional human cases today. These involve a 48-year-old Franklin County woman, a 39-year-old Butler County man, and a 75-year-old man from Adams County.

Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty reminded residents to eliminate standing water wherever possible on their properties. This is especially important in the wake of Tropical Storm Isabel and other heavy rains throughout the commonwealth. These rains have caused many small streams and creeks to overflow their banks.

When these waters recede, they leave behind many small, shallow pools of water, providing more potential mosquito breeding areas. For ponds, ditches, and other areas where water gathers and cannot be removed, property owners can also buy Bti, a naturally occurring bacteria which will kill mosquito larvae. The product is now available in many lawn and garden, home improvement, and outdoor stores.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health