The first positive case of West Nile virus in a Rockland resident has been confirmed by the county's Department of Health.
Rockland County Health Commissioner Patricia Schnabel Ruppert confirmed that a person who lives in Orangetown who is over the age of 50 has tested positive for the illness.
“This human case of West Nile virus reinforces the urgency of the need for people to protect themselves against mosquito bites and to continue to check their property and get rid of standing water around their properties where mosquitoes breed,” Ruppert stated.
“Some mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn when the air is calm, and the females are most likely to bite,” she continued. “However, other mosquitoes will feed at any time of the day. To protect yourself from bites, use insect repellents when spending time outdoors.”
The last known case of West Nile in a Rockland resident was reported in 2018.
There have been a total of 22 reported human cases of West Nile in New York State so far in 2021, including to cases in Westchester County. No other parts of the Hudson Valley have reported any cases.
“This is typically the time of the year we expect to see a rise in West Nile Virus activity, and these positive mosquito pools confirm that,” Ruppert noted.
According to the Department of Health, most mosquitoes do not test positive for disease-causing viruses. However, a bite from a West Nile Virus-infected mosquito can cause serious illness, and in some cases, death.
“Although a person's chances of getting sick are small, those aged 50 and older are at the highest risk for serious illness,” officials noted. “Not everyone infected with West Nile Virus will become ill."
If contracted, West Nile can cause serious health complications, including neurological diseases, and can also cause a milder flu-like illness, including fever, headache and body aches, nausea, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands.
Ruppert said that mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, which develops for seven to 10 days before emerging as adult mosquitos that fly and bite.
To avoid mosquitoes gathering and to control their spread, the Department of Health offered advice for area residents:
- Check your property for any items that can hold water. Anything you choose to keep outside, such as kids' toys, buckets, wading pools, canoes, and wheelbarrows, should be flipped over when not used to prevent them from collecting any water;
- Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers and remove all discarded tires;
- If you have a swimming pool or spa that is not in use, drain the water off the cover or treat the standing water with Mosquito Dunks, and post accordingly. (The dunks are available free of charge at the Health Department, Building D, 50 Sanatorium Road in Pomona, Monday - Friday by appointment only, while supplies last. Call (845) 364-3173 or e-mail email@example.com to arrange a pickup);
- Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito;
- Use an outdoor flying insect spray where mosquitoes rest. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture or under the carport or garage. When using insecticides, always follow label instructions;
- If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes. Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito;
- Make sure that roof gutters drain properly, clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds, and remove leaf debris from yards and gardens.
“The dedicated professionals in our Health Department's Mosquito Control Program are doing their utmost to protect us all,” County Executive Ed Day stated. “We ask that you do your part in checking your property to eliminate any standing water where mosquitos could breed.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.