Twelve mosquito samples taken July 20 and 21 in Suffolk County, including one in Aquebogue, tested positive for West Nile Virus, the county health department announced today.

Twelve mosquito samples across Suffolk County, including one sample in Aquebogue, have tested positive for West Nile virus, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Piggot announced today. 

The most recent mosquito samples, all Culex pipiens-restuans, were collected on July 20 and 21, and are the first to test positive in the county this year, according to a press release by the county Department of Health Services. 

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” Pigott said. “While there is no cause for alarm, we advise residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce exposure to West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

West Nile virus was first detected in bird and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and have been detected every year since. The virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and most people infected with the virus experience mild or no symptoms, the press release states. However, some people can develop severe symptoms — including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis — which may last several weeks and have permanent neurological effects.

Individuals most at risk of developing severe symptoms include people 50-years-old or over and people with compromised immune systems, who are advised to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, according to the Department of Health Services. 

Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in an area. Dead birds can be reported to the Bureau of Public Health Protection at 631-852-5999 from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residents are also encouraged to take a photograph of any bird in question.

Some precautionary measures you can take to avoid mosquito sites, according to Pigott, include:

  • 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, flower pot 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.

More information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department of Health Services website.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]