Tips to help prevent the spread of West Nile virus

06/08/2013 7:00 PM |

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To help detect and prevent the spread of the West Nile virus, an infection transmitted by mosquitos, the county Department of Health Services has issued healthcare tips and activated a public health hotline.

West Nile virus is spread to humans by mosquitoes that have fed on birds infected with the virus.

Residents who see dead birds, such as crows, blue jays and hawks that may have been infected are encouraged to report sightings to the Department of Health Services’ public health hotline at 631-787-2200 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The hotline will be active until Labor Day.

Birds meeting department criteria will be picked up between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to be tested for the virus. Humans cannot catch West Nile virus directly from birds, according to a county press release.

Residents are also advised to eliminate areas of stagnant water around their homes. To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, residents can call the Department of Public Works Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.

“Most people experience no symptoms from West Nile virus, however, some people will develop severe symptoms,” said Dr. James Tomarken, commissioner of Health Services.

Symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, he said.

“The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent,” Dr. Tomarken said.

To reduce the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes, residents are advised to use mosquito repellent when outdoors and ensure windows and doors to homes have screens, keeping mosquitoes out.

For further information on mosquitos and mosquito-borne diseases, visit the Department of Health Services website and look under “Seasonal Trends.”

cmiller@timesreview.com

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