Suffolk County, NY - June 7th, 2013 - County Executive Steve Bellone and Commissioner of Health Services James Tomarken announced today the activation of the West Nile hotline as part of a continuing effort to detect and prevent the spread of West Nile virus in the county. West Nile virus infects birds and is spread to humans by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and then humans.
Residents are encouraged to report sightings of dead birds, such as crows, blue jays and hawks that may have been infected with the virus to the Department of Health Services’ Public Health Hotline at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The hotline will be active until Labor Day.
Birds that meet the Department of Health Services’ criteria will be picked up between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Accepted bird specimens are tested for the presence of the virus in the bird population. 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.
County officials urge residents to cooperate with the county in its efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, “The West Nile hotline is a perfect example of how residents can assist local officials in ensuring the health and safety of our community,” said Bellone.
According to Dr. James Tomarken, “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.
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.”