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Time to target mosquitoes, heath officials say

Nassau County has already started this year’s trapping of adult mosquitoes, with an eye to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, and Suffolk County is set to launch its annual program next week, health officials said Friday.

Nassau’s health department has begun collecting mosquitoes at 42 sites, according to a news release issued Friday. Other health department activities will include identifying mosquito species, sending certain mosquitoes for testing, and investigating suspected or confirmed cases of encephalitis, including West Nile and Zika viruses, to try to pinpoint the infections’ sources.

Public works staffers are also “treating thousands of street basins, sumps, ponds and hundreds of miles of fresh water streams for mosquitoes,” as well as conducting aerial larvicide application to South Shore salt marshes, the release said.

Suffolk County, whose mosquito surveillance program has been in place since the 1970s, is set to start trapping at its 50 sites throughout the county, said Dr. James Tomarken, health department commissioner.

When it comes to Zika virus, residents are asked to heed alerts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises pregnant women to steer clear of visiting “countries where there is known transmission of Zika virus,” said Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County health commissioner.

While a possible Zika virus transmitter, the Asian tiger mosquito — known formally as Aedes albopictus — is present on Long Island, the more efficient transmitter, Aedes aegypti, has not been found in New York State, Nassau officials said.

Residents can help by alerting public works officials to standing water and eliminating mosquito breeding grounds around their property.

That means identifying and regularly emptying any receptacles where water is present or likely to gather, such as bird baths, folds of tarps and other containers.

Also, draining or filling in puddles; clearing water-clogging debris from drainage ditches and roof gutters; filtering ornamental ponds.

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