Health Officials Urge Residents to Be Vigilant about Dumping Stagnant Water
Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) Commissioner James L. Tomarken, MD, MSW, MPH, MBA, FRCPC, FACP, has been notified by the New York State Department of Health that 15 additional mosquito samples sent to their laboratory have tested positive for West Nile virus.
Infected samples were collected August 26 and 27 in Northport in Huntington and Brentwood in Islip. Additional samples collected August 31 and September 1 were found in Brookhaven (4): Blue Point, Selden, East Setauket and Shirley; Huntington (7): Northport (4), Greenlawn, Huntington and Huntington Station; Islip: Heckscher State Park and Babylon: Deer Park.
This year, a total of 251 mosquito samples, collected from various places in the county, have tested positive for West Nile virus. A total of 68 birds have tested positive in 2010. Six confirmed cases of West Nile virus in humans have been reported in Suffolk County this year.
Mosquito samples testing positive for West Nile virus have been collected at county and state parks this season. Evening activities and overnight camping continue to be suspended in some parks. Therefore, it would be advisable to check with a park’s administration before planning any evening events. The county will continue to collect samples at parks and will recommend resumption of dusk-to-dawn activities at these facilities when the parks are considered to be safe.
West Nile virus, first detected in Suffolk in 1999 and again each year thereafter through 2010, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.
“We are seeing record numbers of infected mosquitoes this year and it is likely to be a while before mosquitoes become dormant for the season,” said Dr. James L. Tomarken, MD, MSW, MPH, MBA, FRCPC, FACP. “We are concerned that new pools of stagnant water that will be left after this storm may increase the mosquito population and the risk of transmission of the West Nile virus to humans. We urge all residents to remove any stagnant water around their homes as soon as the storm is over.”
To reduce the mosquito population around homes, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water:
• Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-
• 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
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
• Drain water from pool covers.
While most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, some can develop severe symptoms including: high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. 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 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, or to report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the West Nile virus hotline in Suffolk County at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 631-853-3055.
For further information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/health.