Area residents will want to cover up and bring out the bug spray after five mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile virus.
Suffolk County health officials Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said the infected insects were collected on July 25 from Cold Spring Harbor, Northport, Brentwood,, and Melville.
These are the first mosquito samples to test positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County this year.
In addition, two dead birds, one collected in Northport, the other collected in Nesconset, tested positive for West Nile virus, the health department said.
West Nile virus, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk this year.
“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.”
According to 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, 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.
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 631-852-5999 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.
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