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West Nile Virus Outbreak

West Nile Virus Outbreak

Southern Tier (WENY) -- The West Nile virus is at its worst since 2004, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York has four confirmed human cases of the mosquito-bourne disease and Pennsylvania with eight, but no deaths.

Tom Kump -- Chemung County's Director of Environmental Health -- says while there is West Nile in the state, people can be safe with the right precautions.

"They should be aware -- that's the best word -- aware that West Nile virus is still here," said Kump. "It could be a problem."

There may only be a few human cases of West Nile in New York and Pennsylvania, but health officials still encourage people to protect themselves by wearing repellent and long sleeved clothing.

Mosquitoes accumulate around stagnant water like in gutters, bird baths or any type of outdoor containers that can fill up with water. Some residents in the Southern Tier aren't too concerned with the virus becoming a big problem in the area.

"I just put sunscreen on," said Ithaca resident Brian Magee. "I'm more worried about the sun than I am mosquitoes."

"I go out in the woods a lot -- I'm not even worried about the ticks either," added Alan Tobey, from Erin. "I just check myself when I get back in, but it doesn't really bother me."

"I wear like jeans and a sweatshirt, but I don't really wear bug spray," said Mike Romano, who lives in Baldwinsville.

There's close to 700 human cases in the U.S. -- the majority in Texas -- but the lack of rain in the Twin Tiers this summer has helped keep mosquitoes from spreading.

"If there's an increase, then we would be certain to let the public know to increase their diligence of fighting the bite," said Kump.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, only one in 150 people infected with the virus will actually develop a severe illness.  Symptoms can include blindness, headaches, high fever and muscle weakness, but 80 percent of those infected won't even show any signs.