To date this year, 158 mosquito samples and four birds have tested positive for West Nile virus. No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County this year, according to county officials.
West Nile virus, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again yearly through 2012, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.
“The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population,” said Dr. Tomarken. “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus which can be debilitating to humans.”
To reduce the mosquito population around homes, residents are urged to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed by disposing of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers, removing all discarded tires on property, ensuring roof gutters drain properly, and cleaning clogged gutters.
In addition, plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows should be turned over when not in use, birdbath water should be changed, vegetation and debris should be cleaned from the edges of ponds, shrubs and grass should be trimmed, pools, saunas and hot tubs should be cleaned and chlorinated, and water should be drained from pool covers.
Although, according to Dr. Tomarken, most individuals infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Individuals who are most at risk are those 50 years of age or older or those with compromised immune systems; they are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
To avoid mosquito bites, residents are advised to minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are more active, use mosquito repellent when outdoors, and make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good shape.
Dead birds found on area properties may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the West Nile virus hotline in Suffolk County at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 631-854-0333.
In early September, another sample of West Nile virus was found in Aquebogue, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services said.