Four additional mosquito samples taken July 17 in East Setauket have tested positive for West Nile Virus, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced Thursday.
The virus was first detected in the mosquito population this year on . Thus far, five mosquito samples taken in East Setauket have tested positive for the virus. In 2011, a total of five samples taken in East Setauket between June and September showed the virus circulating in the local mosquito population.
Eight birds have also tested positive for the virus, the county reported. One human case is being considered as probable West Nile Virus; that individual has recovered after several days in the hospital, according to the county.
Health services commissioner Dr. James Tomarken urged residents to eliminate stagnant water around their homes in order to help control the mosquito population.
“Though the number of mosquitoes testing positive is historically high for this time of year, we cannot predict if the numbers will continue to be high,” Tomarken said in a statement. “... Given that the numbers are high and we are finding samples in virtually all parts of the county, we ask that residents be especially vigilant about reducing their exposure to mosquitoes whenever they can.”
Infected mosquitoes have also been found in Port Jefferson Station, in Smithtown at Blydenburgh County Park, Nesconset, Rocky Point, and other places in Suffolk County.
According to the SCDHS, most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but some can develop symptoms such as high fever, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Individuals, particularly those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
The county advised residents to minimize activity outdoors between dusk and dawn, use mosquito repellant, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during periods of mosquito activity, and make sure windows and doors have screens in good repair. The county also issued tips for residents to employ to reduce the mosquito population around their homes, including:
- Remove items like tin cans, ceramic pots, plastic containers, and tires which act as water-holding devices;
- Clean clogged gutters and make sure they drain properly;
- Frequently change the water in birdbaths;
- Turn over items like wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use;
- Keep shrubs and grass trimmed, and keep vegetation and debris away from the edges of ponds;
- Drain water from pool covers;
- Make sure swimming pools, hot tubs, and outdoor saunas are clean and chlorinated.
The county also advised that dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile, and anyone who finds a dead bird should call the county's West Nile hotline at 631-787-2200 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Mosquito problems and stagnant pools of water can be reported to the Department of Public Works' Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.
For medical questions pertaining to West Nile virus, residents can call 631-853-3055 or visit the Department of Health Services website.