Bird Tests Positive for West Nile Virus in Suffolk

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Health officials encourage residents to report sightings of dead birds.

Selden, NY - June 25, 2014 - Commissioner of Health Services James Tomarken, MD, MPH, announced today that an American robin collected on June 16th in Selden has tested positive for West Nile virus, an illness that infects birds and is spread to humans by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and then humans. This is the first bird to test positive for West Nile virus in the county this year. To date this year, the Department of Health Services has received no reports that humans, mosquitoes or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus.
 
Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. Residents are encouraged to report sightings of dead birds to the Department of Health Services’ Public Health Hotline at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. County staff will collect crows, blue jays, hawks and American robins between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. 
 
If it is determined by health officials that a reported bird is not needed for testing or if a dead bird is discovered on a weekend, residents should take proper precautionary measures: put the dead bird into a doubled bag, using gloves and a shovel, and dispose of it in the trash. Note: Humans cannot catch West Nile virus directly from birds.
 
Dr. Tomarken urges residents to cooperate with the county in its efforts to contain the spread of West Nile virus: “Most people experience no symptoms from West Nile virus, however, some people will 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.”
To reduce chances of being bitten by mosquitoes, 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, following label directions carefully;
  • make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that screens are in good repair; and
  • eliminate all standing water around their homes.
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, contact your health care provider or call 631-854-0333 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
 
For further information on mosquitos and mosquito-borne diseases, visit the Department of Health Services’ website at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/health and look under “Seasonal Trends.”
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