West Nile virus is present in Carbon County.

According to a report by the Pennsylvania West Nile Control Program, released Monday, two mosquito samples tested positive for West Nile virus in the county this year. The samples were taken from Palmerton and Lower Towamensing Township.

The samples were the 50th and 51st mosquitoes collected and 30th and 31st tested in the county.

These two samples make the total number of reported positive results in the state 354 this year.

A total of 34 out of the 67 counties have discovered the virus in mosquitoes; while two counties have had dead bird positive results.

No human West Nile virus cases in the state have been reported so far this year.

West Nile virus is a disease that infects birds, which are bitten by mosquitoes and transmitted to humans and other mammals through bites. It was first detected in the United States in 1999 and has since spread into numerous states.

Since 2000, when a West Nile virus program was implemented in the state, Carbon County has had a total of 15 positive West Nile virus results in mosquitoes; with only one confirmed human case in 2003.

In 2009, the West Nile virus surveillance program was abolished in Carbon by the county commissioners because of the low number of positive results.

Earlier this year, Amanda Witman, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, noted that there was a lower number of West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes during the early part of the season because of a colder-than-normal spring.

She added that the end of June and early July were particularly good for mosquito breeding because of the excessive heat and heavy rains.

There are things people can do to reduce the risk of West Nile virus in their surroundings, DEP reports.

They include:

Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires, or any object on your property that could collect standing water.

Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.

Have roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from nearby trees have a tendency to clog the drains.

Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

Don't let water stagnate in birdbaths.

Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and remove standing water from pool covers.

Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.

Standing water that cannot be eliminated should be treated with BTI products, which are sold at outdoor supply, home improvement, and other stores. BTI is a naturally occurring bacterium that kills mosquito larvae but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.

Additionally, residents can prevent mosquito bites, with these simple tips:

Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes.

Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors, particularly when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, or in areas known for having large numbers of mosquitoes.

When possible, reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk during peak mosquito periods.

Use insect repellants according to the manufacturer's instructions. An effective repellant will contain DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician for questions about the use of repellant on children, as repellant is not recommended for children under the age of 2 months.

For more information about West Nile virus, including current test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, visit www.westnile.state.pa.us [1] or call the Department of Health at 1-877-PA HEALTH.

For information on symptoms of West Nile Virus in humans, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html [2].