Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fighting West Nile Virus

The county commissioners this morning approved the expenditure of a $108,235 state grant on partnering with the Pennsylvania State University to control the spread of West Nile Virus by mosquitoes.

In 2008, 10 of 849 samples from 192 test sites throughout the county tested positive for the virus, according to Matt Mercer, the West Nile Virus Coordinator with PSU's Lancaster County Cooperative Extension.

While that may not sound like a lot, it's plenty reason for concern, said Mercer.

"We had positive samples from all areas of the county" and "Lancaster County is the only county in Pennsylvania which had horses die after being infected by the virus," he explained.

Two horse deaths occurred, one in Fulton Township and one in Leola.

It's not only rural areas of the county that are affected. A positive sample was taken from stagnant water at the Lancaster Stockyards just this past summer, he said.

Mercer encourages residents to eliminate the standing water that gives mosquitoes opportunities to lay eggs.

Mosquitoes need standing water for four days only to accomplish their cycle of laying and hatching eggs, he explained.

The state grant will go to pay for activities aimed toward the elimination of breeding grounds, the destruction of larvae, and spraying for adult populations.

In other business, Wednesday, the commissioners approved the expenditure of $377,806 in county funds to help purchase agricultural conservation easements in order to preserve 242 acres of farmland in Fulton, Ephrata, and Drumore Townships.

Lancaster County has preserved 1,008 farms, totaling over 80,000 acres, according to Matt Knepper, the county's Director of Agricultural Preserve Board.

Next week, the commissioners are expected to announce their decision regrading the disposition of the county's vacant 225 W. King St. building.