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West Nile virus detected in Suffolk mosquito samples

Two mosquito samples collected Aug. 15 and 16 at Gardiner County Park, Bay Shore, and Byron Lake Park, Oakdale, have tested positive for West Nile virus, Suffolk County health officials said Monday.

As a result, the Town of Islip Department of Parks and the Suffolk County Department of Parks have been "advised to restrict activities . . . to daytime hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.," according to a release from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

That brings to 109 the number of mosquito samples testing positive this year in the county, along with four birds. There have been no human or equine cases so far this year, health officials said.

Nassau County has had 21 positive mosquito samples, also with no human cases, a health department spokeswoman said.

Some mosquitoes' bites transmit West Nile to humans. Mosquitoes pick up the virus by feeding on infected birds.

Nationally, last year ranked as the second-worst in terms of West Nile cases since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Nassau and Suffolk counties reported 14 human cases each last year, including one Nassau death.

The positive samples this year indicate "the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population," according to a statement by James L. Tomarken, commissioner of Suffolk County Health Services. "While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which can be debilitating to humans."

That means eliminating standing water, which can collect in tin cans, birdbaths and discarded tires, and serve as mosquito breeding grounds.

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