Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced Monday that a mosquito sample found in Gardiner County Park in Islip has tested positive for West Nile virus.
The sample, which was collected on June 20, was the first of two positive samples discovered last month, officials said. A dead crow, picked up in Northport on June 27, also tested positive for the virus.
“The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population,” said health services commissioner James L. Tomarken, adding that there is no cause for alarm, but still urged residents to cooperate with the department’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
No humans have tested positive for the virus in Suffolk this year, the department said.
If a person does become infected with the virus they 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, according to the department of health.
Additionally, the symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. People 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune symptoms, are at a higher risk and are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
West Nile has been discovered in Suffolk County each year since 1999. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.
The health department released some tips to avoid mosquito bites:
- Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
- Wear shoes and 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.
Tips to reduce mosquito population around homes:
- 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 when not in use.
- Change the water in birdbaths.
- Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and keep shrubs
- and grass trimmed.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
- Drain water from pool covers.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 631-853-3055.