Mosquito samples test positive for West Nile Virus

Mosquito samples test positive for West Nile Virus


SUFFOLK COUNTY—Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken announced on Monday, July 16, that four mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus. One of the samples, collected earlier this month, came from Heckscher State Park in East Islip. The others came from East Northport, Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown and Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon. These are the first mosquito samples to test positive for West Nile virus this year, according to officials.

West Nile virus, which was first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year afterward, is transmitted to humans through bites from infected mosquitos. No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus this year. 

The first death from West Nile virus in Suffolk County since 2010 was reported last year. The victim, an Islip Town resident over the age of 50, began experiencing symptoms related to West Nile in late August before being hospitalized in mid-September. They died several days later. 

This marked the fourth case of West Nile virus in Suffolk County last year. The three other individuals, one from the Town of Brookhaven and the other two from the Town of Smithtown, were reported to have recovered. 

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 who are most at risk, especially those 50 years of age or older or those with compromised immune systems, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitos. 

To avoid mosquito bites, officials are advising residents to minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitos are active. Residents are also advised to use mosquito repellent, make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair. 

To keep mosquitos from laying eggs inside or outside your home, you should, 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.

Dead birds many indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the information line in Suffolk County at 631-852-5999 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residents are encouraged to take a photo of any bird in question.

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