County health officials reported a West Nile virus sample was found in a mosquito at Blydenburgh Park in Smithtown recently, and have temporarily halted activities at the county park between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The sample was one of 17 found recently by the county on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21. And the park is no stranger to West Nile, having to close down early from positive West Nile samples over the past several summers. Another sample was found in Commack, officials said.
“The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population,” said Dr. Tomarken. “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus which can be debilitating to humans.”
Other locations where positive samples were found include Huntington (1), South Huntington (2), Huntington Station (1), Northport (1), East Northport (3), Lindenhurst (1), West Babylon (1), Port Jefferson Station (1) and Selden (1) and Rocky Point (2).
To date, 124 mosquitos have tested positive, though no traces have been found in humans or horses.
West Nile virus, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter through 2012, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.
A confirmation of West Nile virus indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population, stated county officials in a press release. The best protection is to take proactive measures to contain the mosquito population around the home.
To reduce the mosquito population around homes, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed:
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
- 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 grass trimmed.
- 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. The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Individuals who are most at risk, those 50 years of age or older or those with compromised immune systems, 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 that 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, call the West Nile virus hotline in Suffolk County at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 631-854-0333.
For further information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website.