WEATHER conditions have unleased mosquitoes bearing the West Nile virus sooner than ever, authorities say.
The first virus-infected mosquito of the season was found in Berks County on May 3 — the earliest detection in Pennsylvania since 2000.
The state Department of Environmental Protection, which monitors the virus in mosquitoes from May to October, has found 112 positive mosquitoes this year and reports that the numbers have been steadily increasing.
Last year, 1,262 mosquitoes and six humans were found virus-positive in 25 of the state's 67 counties.
"We anticipate the numbers to be similar to last year," said Pennsylvania DEP spokeswoman Amanda Whitman. "Not having a very severe winter is a contributing factor because not all of the adult population of mosquitoes was killed off. This year, the mild winter and wet spring caused an early emergence [of mosquitoes]."