Hauppauge (WALK) - There have been no cases of the West Nile virus reported in Suffolk County so far this year, and county health officials would like to keep it that way.
Suffolk Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken announced yesterday that hours for visitors at two county parks would be cut back after mosquitoes infected with West Nile were found at both parks. Activities at Byron Lake Park in Oakdale and Gardiner Park in Bay Shore have been restricted to daytime hours between 8 AM and 6 PM, when mosquitoes aren't as active.
Tomarken says that two mosquito samples have tested postive for West Nile, one at each park.
“The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population,” said 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, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter through 2012, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people don't feel too many ill effects from West Nile, but others can develop serious symptoms like high fever, tremors, seizures and vision loss. West Nile can be deadly, especially for anyone with a pre-existing medical condition.
To avoid mosquito bites, Suffolk residents are advised to:
- 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.
Tomarken says that dead birds found on area properties may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the West Nile virus hotline in Suffolk County at (631) 787-2200 from 9 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday.
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at (631) 852-4270.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call (631) 854-0333 or click here.
Photo: J.A. Gaspar