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Three Parks Advised to Suspend Nighttime Activities as Mosquito Samples Test Positive for West Nile Virus

To date this year, 57 Culex pipiens-restuans mosquito samples and six birds have tested positive for West Nile virus.

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Zika virus has not been found in mosquitoes in Suffolk County.

Photo by: Michaela Kobyakov, via Free Images.

Suffolk County, NY - August 11, 2016 - Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James L. Tomarken announced today that mosquito samples (all Culex pipiens-restuans) taken from Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown (1), Connetquot State Park in Oakdale (1), and Girl Scout Day Camp Sobaco in Yaphank (1), on August 3 and August 4  have tested positive for West Nile virus. Suffolk County health officials have contacted park administrators and advised them to suspend activities in the parks between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. when the Culex pipiens-restuans mosquito is most active.

In addition to those three samples, 17 mosquito samples, all Culex pipiens-restuans, tested positive for West Nile virus. Those samples were collected on July 27 from Jamesport (1) and on August 3 and August 4 from Copiague (1), West Babylon (1), Selden (1), Setauket (1), Aquebogue (5), Huntington Station (1), Northport (1), Melville (1), Holbrook (1), and Holtsville (3).

To date this year, 57 Culex pipiens-restuans mosquito samples and six birds have tested positive for West Nile virus. No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County this year.

West Nile virus, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

“It is important for residents to know that New York State is testing mosquitoes not only for West Nile virus but also for Zika virus, and to date this year, no mosquito samples in New York State have tested positive for Zika virus,” said Dr. Tomarken. “However, we don’t know what may happen in the future, so we encourage residents to maintain their homes and yards and to continually eliminate standing water where mosquitoes may breed.”

To reduce the mosquito population around homes, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
  • Remove all discarded tires on the property.
  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change the water in birdbaths.
  • Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and keep shrubs and grass trimmed.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.

Video: Scott Campbell, PhD, shows home owners many of the places in your back yard where mosquitoes breed.

According to Dr. Tomarken, 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.

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, following label directions carefully.
  • Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.

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.  Residents are encouraged to take a photograph of any bird in question.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.

For further information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website.