One of 12 mosquito samples throughout the county that tested positive for West Nile virus was found in East Hampton, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced last week.
Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said on Friday that the dozen samples collected between July 23 and July 29 tested positive, bringing the total confirmed number in the county to 35 for this year. The mosquitoes sampled were all Culex pipiens-restuans. Three came from West Babylon, three came from Huntington, two came from West Islip, and one each came from East Hampton, Dix Hills, Northport, and Huntington Station.
“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples or birds indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” Dr. Tomarken said in a release. He said that given that the results of the testing shows positive in such a small sample, caution is recommended. “While there is no cause for alarm,” said Dr. Tomarken, “we advise residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”
Even though West Nile virus has been detected in birds and mosquitoes in Suffolk County since 1999, the health commissioner stated that no humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus this year.
Dr. Tomarken said most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but 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, especially those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, who are most at risk, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Some of the precautions recommended by the health commissioner include minimizing outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, use of mosquito repellent, and wearing shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts during times when mosquitoes are most active. In addition, to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs, the county recommends that residents empty and thoroughly clean all containers that are outdoors that hold standing water. To avoid mosquitoes from entering homes, ensure that all windows and doors have screens and are in good condition.
Dr. Tomarken also said dead birds may indicate that there is West Nile virus in the area. He recommended that photos be taken of the dead birds and reports made to the Suffolk County Public Health Information Line at 631-852-5999, Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
For more information visit Suffolk County Health Services website at www.suffolkcountyny.gov.