Positive West Nile sample found in Jamesport

08/15/2011 4:05 PM |

A mosquito sample taken in Jamesport between Aug. 2 and Aug. 5 tested positive for West Nile virus, Suffolk County Health Services officials said.

Thirteen other samples tested positive in Rocky Point, Dix Hills, Lindenhurst, Bay Shore, East Northport, North Patchogue, Holbrook, Ronkonkoma, Bridgehampton, Huntington and East Setauket, and a total of 24 samples collected throughout Suffolk County have been positive this season.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population,” said Suffolk County Health Services Commissioner James Tomarken in a statement. “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.”

West Nile Virus was first detected in Suffolk in 1999, and officials have found traces of it every year since. The virus is transmitted to humans by bites from infected mosquitoes. No humans or horses have tested positive for the virus in the county this year, but eleven birds have been infected so far this season.

Last year, four people contracted the virus in the county, and one contracted it the year before.

While humans with the virus can experience mild or no symptoms, severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms can last several weeks, and neurological effects can be permanent.

Health Services officials urge residents to take the following precautions to rid their properties of stagnant waters, where mosquitoes breed, to reduce mosquito populations.

• 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 that aren’t being used.

• Change the water in birdbaths.

• Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and trim shrubs and grass.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools

Residents older than 50 and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk and are urged to take the following precautions to avoid being bitten.

• Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.

• Wear shoes, 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 on properties may mean West Nile virus is in the area. Residents can call the West Nile virus gotline to report a dead bird at 787-2200.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 852-4270.

Call 853-3055 for medical questions related to West Nile virus, and for more information on the virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website.

samantha@northshoresun.com

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