BY MICHAEL RICONDA
New City – Four more mosquito samples collected by the county and examined by the State Department of Health have been found to harbor West Nile Virus last week, according to Rockland health officials.
Statewide, 62 positive samples have been found in Rockland, Westchester, Suffolk, Nassau and Onondaga counties, as well as New York City, where 32 of the infected samples were found. Though 107 human infections were reported statewide in 2012, no cases have been reported this year.
“We have six positive pools so far this year,” Health Department environmental scientist Amy Isenberg explained to the Rockland County Times. “One has been found in Clarkstown, three have been found in Orangetown, and two have been found in Ramapo.”
Isenberg assured the Times that current sample numbers are consistent with recent trends and are not abnormal. West Nile appearances are expected to experience a bump in August before dissipating in the fall, but the county’s mosquito control program continues to identify and treat known positive sites over the course of the summer.
West Nile Virus, which was first identified in the Lower Hudson Valley in 1999, typically causes flu-like symptoms in those bitten by infected mosquitoes. However, on occasion it can cause fatal brain infections, with the elderly facing a particular risk of serious illness.
Preventing infection can be accomplished by minimizing outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, wearing long clothing to cover skin and using insect repellent.
The Rockland County Department of Health has also released instructions on controlling the spread of the virus, mostly through eliminating standing pools where mosquito larvae hatch. Isenberg explained maintenance of private property is ultimately the first line of defense against both infection and the spread of West Nile.
“The best thing anyone can do is make sure there is no standing water on your own property,” Isenberg stressed. “We cannot be in everybody’s back yard.”
Residents are encouraged to regularly drain pools of water or treat them with Mosquito Dunks®, which is available for free at the Health Department’s Building D at 50 Sanatorium Road in Pomona while supplies last. Clearing debris such as vegetation, tires, and standing wheelbarrows is also encouraged.
More information on West Nile is available to residents at the Rockland County Department of Health’s website: http://rocklandgov.com/departments/health/environmental-health/