Suffolk County health officials are advising three parks to suspend all activities between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. effective immediately after mosquito samples collected in the parks on Aug. 3 and 4 tested positive for West Nile virus.
Officials also announced that West Nile-positive samples were collected in 17 additional locations across the county, including Jamesport and Aquebogue.
The affected parks are Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown, Connetquot State Park in Oakdale and the Girl Scout Day Camp Sobaco in Yaphank.
To date this year, 57 Culex pipiens-restuans mosquito samples and six birds have tested positive for West Nile virus. No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County so far this year.
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. Since its initial detection in the United States in 1999, the virus has infected 43,937 people nationwide; a little under half of those infected had “neuroinvasive” disease producing neurological effects, which can be long-lasting or even permanent. There were 1,911 deaths attributed to West Nile from 1999 to 2015.
Zika virus, which is widespread in Central America, South America the Caribbean has not been found in mosquitoes in Suffolk County, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said in a press release issues yesterday afternoon. Zika has not been detected in mosquitoes anywhere in New York. It has recently been found in mosquitos in Florida.
Zika causes no or only mild symptoms but a Zika infection during pregnancy can infect the fetus and cause microencephaly and other severe birth defects according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
There have been 46 human cases of Zika infection in New York state, but all were travel-related, according to the New York State Department of Health.
“It is important for residents to know that New York State is testing mosquitoes not only for West Nile virus but also for Zika virus, and to date this year, no mosquito samples in New York State have tested positive for Zika virus,” said Dr. Tomarken.
“However, we don’t know what may happen in the future, so we encourage residents to maintain their homes and yards and to continually eliminate standing water where mosquitoes may breed.”
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.
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.
Residents are encouraged to report dead birds to the West Nile virus hotline 631-787-2200 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday). Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area.
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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