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West Nile Virus Makes Its Earliest-Ever Seasonal Appearance In Pennsylvania

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(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

EXETER TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — A mosquito carrying West Nile virus has been found in Berks County, Pa.  It’s the earliest detection of the virus in Pennsylvania since the state began monitoring in 2000.

Typically, the first mosquito carrying West Nile virus in Pennsylvania is found in June.  Previously, the earliest detection of the virus was May 17th — until this year, when a mosquito was found in Exeter Township (Berks County) on May 3rd.

Christine Cronkright, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, says unseasonably warm weather in March caused the virus cycle to begin early this year, though she can’t speculate on whether that portends a bad virus season ahead.

“What this means, we don’t know yet,” she said today.  “It’s early in the season, and it may mean we’ll see more cases this year. It may mean that we’re just seeing cases earlier.  But it certainly means that people should take precautions a little bit earlier than they might normally.”

Those precautions include protecting yourself from mosquito bites and taking steps to prevent the insects from breeding, such as keeping your property free of stagnant water.

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