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Suffolk residents encouraged to report dead birds

If you spot a dead bird or birds in Suffolk County, the county heath services department wants to know.

That's because birds can be infected with West Nile virus, which can be spread to humans by mosquitoes that feed on the birds.

The health services department has activated its West Nile hotline at 631-787-2200, operating Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., where residents can report sightings of dead birds, such as crows, blue jays and hawks, according to a Tuesday news release.

As for the mosquitoes, the spotlight is also on them as this is National Mosquito Awareness Week, with a goal to raise awareness, not of the annoying, buzzing bugs, but of ways to limit their breeding.

In 2011 Nassau County recorded 16 cases of West Nile, including one death. There have been 14 deaths in Nassau since 1999 when the virus first appeared in the area. In Suffolk County there were four cases but no deaths last year, with a total of seven deaths in Suffolk recorded since 2001, as far back as figures are available.

In an effort to control adult mosquitoes, the Suffolk Public Works Department is planning to spray all streets in Davis Park and Point O'Woods on Fire Island Tuesday from 6 to 10 p.m., and streets in Ocean Bay Park on Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m., weather permitting.

Consumers, themselves, can also do their bit. The key is to eliminate standing water, which is a mosquito breeding ground, says a release from the American Mosquito Control Association, the founder of mosquito awareness week.

Here are tips from that group and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services:

Check frequently, especially after rain, for even small amounts of water in places such as flower pots, tin cans, children's toys, pool covers.

Get rid of used tires where water can collect.

Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers so water will drain.

In spring and fall clear rain gutters of debris.

Turn over wheelbarrows and kids' wading pools when not in use.

Repair leaky outdoor faucets.

Frequently change water in birdbaths and pets' outdoor water dishes.

Chlorinate swimming pools and hot tubs.

Clear vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.


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