It was announced Friday that 22 new mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County.
Two of those samples were taken in West Babylon and two more in Lindenhurst, though no exact areas are provided.
To date, the county has confirmed 44 cases of West Nile virus in mosquitoes, according to an advisory issued by Suffolk County health commissioner James Tomarken.
“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 advise residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”
There are three positive tests in birds to date, found in Nesconset, Hauppauge and Stony Brook.
No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk 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.
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, according to Dr. Tomarken.
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 mosquitoes are active.
- Use mosquito repellent, following label directions carefully.
- Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.
- Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, discarded tires, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, trash cans and rain barrels.
- Download a copy of Suffolk County’s informational brochure “Get the Buzz on Mosquito Protection,” available in English and Spanish, and share it with your community.
Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the Public Health Information Line in Suffolk County at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 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.
Featured photo credit: The Suffolk Times