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More mosquito samples test positive for EEE, West Nile virus

Suffolk County Health Commissioner James Tomarken, as seen

Suffolk County Health Commissioner James Tomarken, as seen on April 26. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Suffolk health officials on Friday announced the discovery of the potentially lethal Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus in three mosquito samples and another 22 mosquito samples infected with West Nile virus.

The new samples come after earlier tests revealed two samples of EEE virus, also called Triple E, and up to 23 samples of West Nile virus in mosquitoes, officials said in a news release.

“Triple E is not common in humans, so we don’t want people to be alarmed but rather informed,” said Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk County health commissioner. “As with West Nile virus and any other mosquito-borne illnesses, we encourage people to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”

The EEE samples were collected from the Manorville area after an aerial spraying on Aug. 9.

“Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but potentially deadly illness for humans,” officials said in the news release. “The disease is also a concern for horses, though a vaccine is available and recommended for horses. Both EEE and West Nile virus are transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito.”

The findings bring to five the number of EEE samples discovered in Suffolk this year. Officials said there were four EEE positive mosquito samples in Suffolk in 2017 and three in 2008.

The 22 new samples of West Nile virus were collected from Manorville, Cold Spring Harbor, Melville, Northport, West Babylon, North Babylon, Lindenhurst, Oakdale, Smithtown, Farmingville, Bohemia and Riverhead.

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In all, Suffolk has reported 35 mosquito samples with West Nile virus and three birds have tested positive for the virus this year.

Officials said they urge area residents to help curb the mosquito population by eliminating standing water on property to prevent the laying of eggs. Additionally, people over 50 years old, or those with compromised immune systems, should take extra precautions including minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, wearing shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitoes are active, using mosquito repellent, making sure all windows and doors have screens in good repair.

“Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home,” the release said. “Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, discarded tires, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, trash cans and rain barrels.”

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