Health Department confirms case of West Nile Virus in Allegheny County


PITTSBURGH – The first human case of West Nile virus in Allegheny County in 2017 has been confirmed, the county Health Department announced Tuesday.

The case was confirmed in an elderly woman who lives in Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhood. She was bitten by a Culex mosquito in mid-August, and has since been treated and released from a hospital.

It’s the first confirmed human case in the county in two years.

Officials said the woman was infected during a week when infected mosquito activity was higher across Pennsylvania than in the previous six years.


Now that birds are migrating south, experts say mosquitoes are turning to humans.

“I think the people who are most at risk are over 65 or those with compromised immune systems,” said Dr. Kristen Mertz, with the Health Department. “About 20 percent get fever, headaches, joint pain, but not life-threatening.”


Mertz said most healthy people who contract the virus will hardly know they have it. Health officials also suggest checking your yards where mosquitoes might breed, anywhere there’s stagnant water, to get rid of it.

There are no vaccines to prevent West Nile virus, nor medications to treat it. The Health Department said people can reduce the risk of being infected by using and regularly applying insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.


The Health Department will conduct mosquito spraying in Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and Shadyside neighborhoods starting Tuesday at dusk. In the event of rain, the spraying will be done Wednesday. 

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Mosquitoes in those communities have tested positive for the virus. The spray will kill mosquitoes, but we are told it is not harmful to pets or people.