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Suffolk samples test positive for West Nile virus, officials say

Suffolk County public works department ground sprays for

Suffolk County public works department ground sprays for mosquitoes in Mastic Beach on Aug. 9, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

In Suffolk County 34 more mosquito samples, collected from Aug. 9 to 12, have tested positive for West Nile virus, county health officials said Friday.

The samples were collected from Rocky Point (2), Selden (1), Farmingville (2), Port Jefferson Station (2), Setauket (3), West Babylon (2), Copiague (1), Lindenhurst (1), East Hampton (1), Dix Hills (1), Bay Shore (1), Islip Terrace (1), Islip (2) and Commack (1), Holtsville (2), North Patchogue (2), Yaphank (1), Huntington Station (1), Northport (4), Greenlawn (1), and Huntington (2).

That brings the total to 91 samples, all Culex pipiens-restuans mosquitoes, as well as nine birds that have tested positive for West Nile.

Also, Asian Tiger mosquitoes, officially known as Aedes albopictus, are presently active in Suffolk, health officials said. Known “to bite aggressively near your feet and ankles during the day,” they are also relatives of the mosquito — Aedes Aegypti — that is transmitting the Zika virus.

Zika virus has not been found in any mosquitoes on Long Island, officials said.

The Asian Tiger “has been known to carry the virus, but not as competently as the Aedes Aegypti and not at all in New York,” said Grace Kelly-McGovern, health department spokeswoman.

Residents are advised to do the following “if they encounter these daytime biters,” Dr. James L. Tomarken, county health commissioner, said:

Eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed by dumping water and scrubbing containers weekly to remove eggs;

Use mosquito repellent with EPA approved labeling;

Consider using dunks, treating yards with barrier type sprays containing permethrin as the active ingredient, or hiring licensed pesticide applicators.

As for West Nile, Nassau County is reporting five mosquito samples that have tested positive, a health department spokeswoman said.Some mosquito bites can transmit West Nile to humans, with mosquitoes picking up the virus by feeding on infected birds.Last year Suffolk County saw five human West Nile cases and no deaths, with Nassau reporting nine human cases and no deaths.

Also last year, 2,060 human cases of West Nile were reported in the United States, resulting in 119 deaths, based on information as of mid-January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials say residents can help make areas around their homes unfriendly to mosquitoes by:

Regularly looking for and eliminating even the smallest amounts of standing water, which is where the insects reproduce. That could include in cans, buckets and other containers, as well as old tires, tarps, pool covers and children’s toys.

Drilling drainage holes at the bottom of garbage cans, changing birdbath water at least weekly and making sure roof gutters are unclogged and draining properly.

Adding fish to circulate water in any backyard ponds, and clearing pond edges of debris and vegetation.

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