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4 more mosquito samples test positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk

A file photo shows a mosquito, a carrier

A file photo shows a mosquito, a carrier for the potentially lethal West Nile virus. Credit: Getty Images

Four more mosquito samples in Suffolk County have tested positive for West Nile virus, bringing the grand total to seven this year, the county health department said Friday.

Urging residents to get rid of stagnant water near their homes, Health Services Commissioner Dr. James L. Tomarken said in a news release that the mosquito samples were collected July 8. Two samples came from Lindenhurst, one from Nesconset and one from East Northport, indicating the virus is present in western Suffolk from the South Shore to the North Shore.

In June, three mosquito samples tested positive, the health department said -- one was collected in South Huntington on June 18, the second in Selden on June 23, and the third in West Babylon on June 30. No humans, horses or birds have tested positive for the virus in Suffolk this year, the department said.

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

First detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk in 1999 and again every year since, West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through bites from an infected mosquito.

The health department urges residents to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed near their homes by getting rid of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other water-holding containers; removing discarded tires; cleaning clogged roof gutters and making sure they drain properly; turning over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use; changing the water in birdbaths; cleaning debris from the edges of ponds and keeping shrubs and grass trimmed; cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools and hot tubs; and draining water from pool covers.

To avoid mosquito bites, the health department said residents should limit time spent outside between dusk and dawn; wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outside for long periods of time; use mosquito repellent; and make sure windows and doors have screens in good repair.

Tomarken said most people with West Nile virus will have mild symptoms or none at all, but severe symptoms can develop, including headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss and paralysis.

Symptoms can last several weeks, but the neurological effects of the virus can be permanent, the department warned. Those 50 years or older and those with compromised immune systems are urged to take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, the department said.

Residents are also asked to report dead birds, which could indicate the presence of West Nile virus, and are encouraged to take photographs to share with the health department. Dead birds can be reported by calling the West Nile virus hotline at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Mosquito problems and stagnant pools of water can be reported by calling the Department of Public Works' Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.

For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 631-854-0333.

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