Five new mosquito samples collected in the Manorville area— three of them collected since the spraying of Aug. 9 — have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Suffolk County health officials announced Friday afternoon.
The new surveillance brings to six the number of EEE-positive samples confirmed so far this year in Suffolk — twice the number confirmed in 2018. All were in the “Manorville area,” according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, which did not provide specific locations. The county has scheduled additional spraying in the Manorville-Calverton area for Monday, Aug. 19 from 7 p.m. to 12 midnight. See separate story.
Mosquitoes infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis can transmit the disease to humans and horses.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare but potentially deadly illness for humans, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. The disease is also a concern for horses, though a vaccine is available and recommended for horses.
“Triple E is not common in humans, so we don’t want people to be alarmed but rather informed,” Suffolk County health commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said. “As with West Nile virus and any other mosquito-borne illnesses, we encourage people to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”
To date, there have been no human cases of EEE in Suffolk County, the health department said. In the United States, an average of seven human cases of EEE are reported annually. New York State reported eight cases of EEE from 2009 through 2018.
Four EEE-positive mosquito samples were reported in Suffolk County in 2017 and three EEE-positive samples were reported in 2018, according to the county.
The six EEE-positive mosquito samples reported in Suffolk so far this year were collected July 31, Aug. 7 and Aug. 13. They were confirmed in Culeseta melanura and Culex salinarius mosquitoes.
Severe cases of EEE can cause swelling of the brain and may be fatal. The mortality rate of those that develop EEE is about 33 percent, the highest among human arboviruses (a virus transmitted by arthropod vectors) cases reported in the U.S., according to the county health department. Currently, there is no human vaccine for EEE and patients who contract the disease are treated with supportive care.
The equine mortality rate in EEE cases ranges from 75 to 90 percent.
Horse owners have an essential role in preventing EEE from spreading, the health department said. Horse owners are encouraged to vaccinate their animals and put safeguards in place that prevent animal exposure to mosquitoes as well as report any suspicious signs of EEE in animals to a veterinarian.
The county health department yesterday also announced an additional 22 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus. One was of the Culiseta melanura species, which was collected in the Manorville area on Aug. 9. Twenty-one mosquito samples were of the Culex pipiens-restuans species. They were collected on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7 from Cold Spring Harbor (1), Melville (1), Northport (1), West Babylon (9), North Babylon (1), Lindenhurst (1), Oakdale (1) Smithtown (1), Farmingville (2), Bohemia (1) and Riverhead (1).
To date this year, Suffolk County has reported 35 mosquito samples confirmed positive for West Nile virus and three birds confirmed positive for West Nile virus. No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk so far this year.
West Nile virus may cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Symptoms may include fever, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, joint pain, and fatigue. There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus. Patients are treated with supportive therapy as needed.
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services continues to ask residents to assist in controlling the mosquito population by eliminating standing water on their property. With the finding of Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus in the county, Tomarken is asking the public to take steps to be even more vigilant, especially those who live in or visit the Manorville area.
Individuals, especially those aged 50 or over, 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 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.
- Download a copy of Suffolk County’s informational brochure “Get the Buzz on Mosquito Protection,” available in English and Spanish, and share it with your community.
According to Tomarken, information regarding measures Suffolk County will take to control mosquito populations will be forthcoming.
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 631-787-2200 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.
For further information on mosquito borne illnesses, visit the Department of Health Services’ website.
This story is free to read thanks in part to the generous support of readers like you. Keep local news free. Become a member today.