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Advisory Issued For Suffolk Residents, Visitors After 15 Samples Test Positive For West Nile

Fifteen mosquito samples from Suffolk County have tested positive for West Nile virus, officials say.
Fifteen mosquito samples from Suffolk County have tested positive for West Nile virus, officials say. Photo Credit: Pixabay

An advisory has been issued on Long Island after there were more than a dozen new mosquito samples that tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Suffolk County Health Commissioner Gregson Pigott announced that 15 new mosquito samples tested positive for the virus after being collected on Tuesday, July 21, and Wednesday, July 22.

The positive samples were collected in Bay Shore (six); Islip (three); with one each in Bay Shore, Brentwood, Great River, Huntington Station, North Patchogue, and West Babylon.

Pigott said that 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.

According to officials, “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,” Pigott noted. “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.”

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, according to the New York State Department of Health. The infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. In humans,

West Nile Virus may cause a mild illness but may also cause encephalitis - inflammation of the brain - or meningitis - inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” Pigott said. “While there is no cause for undue concern, we advise residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce exposure to West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

Pigott said that to avoid mosquito bites, one should:

  • 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.

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