Mosquito Samples and Birds Test Positive for West Nile Virus

In SEPTEMBER 2019 there were 2 cases of West Nile Virus requiring hospitalization on eastern Long Island as reported in the Riverhead Local:

“West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is estimated that 20% of those who become infected will develop clinically noticeable symptoms of West Nile virus disease. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.”

Now this threatening disease is back, at least in mosquito samples and birds. As reported on the county’s website, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott announced that 14 additional mosquito samples, all Culex pipiens-restuans, have tested positive for West Nile virus. The samples were collected on August 6 from Cold Spring Harbor (1), Northport (4), Copiague (1), West Islip (1), Brentwood (2), Bay Shore (3), Bohemia (1), and Farmingville (1). In addition, four birds tested positive for West Nile virus.

To date this season, 37 mosquito samples and six birds have tested positive for West Nile virus.

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.

Most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but 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, especially those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, who are most at risk, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. 

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

  Dr. Pigott offers the following tips to avoid mosquito bites:

  • 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.

Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the Bureau of Public Health Protection at 631-852-5999 from 9 a.m. to 4:00 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 West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website.

Nota bene:

Its good to see a local county health department trying to keep us safe, while their funding is cut, as opposed to the Republican administration and government, supported by sycophants like Rep Lee Zeldin.

About D. Posnett MD

Emeritus Prof. of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
This entry was posted in Health Care, long island, science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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