Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert confirmed the season’s first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in a county resident. The patient lives in Orangetown, is over the age of 50 years, and tested positive for the illness.
“This human case of West Nile virus reinforces the urgency of the need for people to protect themselves against mosquito bites and to continue to check their property and get rid of standing water around their properties where mosquitoes breed. Some mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn when the air is calm, and the females are most likely to bite. However, other mosquitoes will feed at any time of the day. To protect yourself from bites, use insect repellents when spending time outdoors,” said Dr. Ruppert.
Most mosquitoes do not test positive for disease-causing viruses. However, a bite from a West Nile Virus-infected mosquito can cause serious illness, and in some cases, death. Although a person’s chances of getting sick are small, those aged 50 and older are at the highest risk for serious illness. Not everyone infected with West Nile Virus will become ill. However, West Nile can cause serious complications, including neurological diseases, and can also cause a milder flu-like illness, including fever, headache and body aches, nausea, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. If you think you have symptoms of West Nile Virus, see your doctor right away.
Although a person’s chances of getting sick are small, it is important to reduce your risk of being bitten, take the following steps:
- Cover-up as completely as possible. Wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods or when mosquitoes are more active.
- Use mosquito repellent, which should always be applied according to label directions. Do not use repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children younger than 3 years old.
- Cover baby carriers with mosquito netting when outside.
- Stay indoors when mosquitoes are more active.
- Close doors and make sure all windows and doors have screens and that the screens do not have rips, tears, or holes.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. The eggs hatch into larvae that develop in the water for 7 to 10 days before emerging as adult mosquitoes that fly and bite. Many types of mosquitoes, including those that can spread disease, lay their eggs in items around the home, such as in birdbaths, unused flowerpots, discarded tires, and even bottle caps, as well as in small ponds or other bodies of stagnant water.
The best and most effective mosquito control begins in your yard. Even the smallest amount of standing water can serve as a breeding site for mosquitoes. Eliminating standing water is the first step in reducing mosquito breeding:
- Check your property for ANY items that can hold water. Anything you choose to keep outside, such as kids’ toys, buckets, wading pools, canoes, and wheelbarrows, should be flipped over when not used to prevent them from collecting any water.
- Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers and remove all discarded tires.
- If you have a swimming pool or spa that is not in use, drain the water off the cover or treat the standing water with Mosquito Dunks®, and post accordingly. The dunks are available free of charge at the Health Department, Building D, 50 Sanatorium Road in Pomona, Monday – Friday by appointment only, until October 31st or while supplies last. Call 845-364-3173 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a pickup.
- Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
- Use an outdoor flying insect spray where mosquitoes rest. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture or under the carport or garage. When using insecticides, always follow label instructions.
- If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes. Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
- Make sure that roof gutters drain properly, clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds, and remove leaf debris from yards and gardens.
As of October 5, there have been 22 reported human cases of West Nile virus in New York State this season