Mosquito in East Hampton Tests Positive for West Nile

A mosquito collected in East Hampton has tested positive for West Nile virus, James Tomarken, the Suffolk County health commissioner, announced on Friday. The sample, taken between July 23 and 29, is the first collected in East Hampton to test positive for the virus this year. 

The mosquito was one of 12 samples taken in the July 23-29 timeframe that tested positive for West Nile virus. The others were collected in Dix Hills, Northport, West Babylon, Huntington, Huntington Station, and West Islip. 

The county has confirmed 35 mosquito samples to have tested positive for West Nile this year. To date, there are no human cases.

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. 

"The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples or birds indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area," Dr. Tomarken said in a statement issued on Friday. "While there is no cause for alarm, we advise residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans."

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 who are most at risk, particularly those 50 years of age or older or those with compromised immune systems, have been urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

These include minimizing outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, wearing shoes and socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitoes are active; using mosquito repellent, following label directions carefully; making sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair, and keeping mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of residences. Once a week, property owners should 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. 

Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, the public has been asked to call the county's public health information line at 631-852-5999 between 9 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residents have been encouraged to photograph 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.

The county's informational brochure, "Get the Buzz on Mosquito Protection," is available in English and Spanish at suffolkcountyny.gov.