Smithtown, NY - August 27, 2014 - Suffolk County Health Commissioner James L. Tomarken, MD, MPH, MBA, MSW, announced today that mosquito samples taken from Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown (1) and Gardiner County Park in West Bay Shore (1) have tested positive for West Nile virus. The samples, both Culex pipiens-restuans, were collected on August 12th. The Suffolk County Department of Parks has been notified and advised to suspend activities in both parks during the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.
To date this year, 98 mosquito samples and 11 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.
“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples or birds indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” said Dr. Tomarken. “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”
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.
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 medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 631-854-0333.
For further information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website.