With recent positive tests for mosquitos carrying West Nile virus, Suffolk Legislator Tom Donnelly (D-Huntington Station) is urging residents to call the Department of Health Services’ Public Health Hotline at (631) 787-2200, Monday through Friday between 9 am – 4 pm if they spot dead birds in their community and/or have any questions about the virus. Messages can be left if calls are made after business hours.
“No cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Suffolk County this year so there is no reason for the public to be concerned, but we are asking everyone to keep the Health Department informed about possible dead bird sightings so they can take any and all measures to ensure a wonderful and safe summer for all,” said Legislator Donnelly.
By keeping the Suffolk County Department of Health Services informed about possible dead bird sightings, which could be an indication that mosquitos carrying West Nile are in the area, officials can determine if any actions need to be taken. A representative from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services will be able to identify over the phone if it is a particular bird that requires testing. If the Department determines that testing is not needed, they will provide residents with instructions on how to proceed. Birds prone to being bit by infected mosquitoes include crows, blue jays, hawks, falcons, owls and exotic or unusual bird species.
Many residents also have questions about the Zika virus. Where no mosquitos or birds in the area have tested positive for Zika this year, and infection with Zika virus is usually mild with most people showing no symptoms, it has been established that the virus can cause severe birth defects and other serious medical complications. Anyone who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant and think that they may have been exposed to the Zika virus, or has a partner who has recently traveled to an area with the Zika virus, should discuss it with their health care providers. Information about Zika is also available on the Hotline.
There are several precautions people can take to avoid being bitten and ward off mosquitos around residential areas including:
Checking to see that windows and door screens do not have holes and tears
Trimming overgrown bushes
Making sure that stagnant water does not accumulate in bird baths, empty flower pots, abandoned tires or chair cushions
Dumping the water in children’s pools immediately after use
Covering baby carriers with mosquito netting when outside
Avoiding the outdoors from dusk to dawn which are peak mosquito-biting hours
If you are planning on being outdoors after dark, wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Insect repellent containing DEET has been proven to be most effective at reducing mosquito bites, assuming they are applied according to manufacturer’s instructions.
West Nile virus was first detected in Suffolk County in 1999. Although not everyone who is bit by an infected mosquito will develop the disease, it is very serious and potentially fatal. For further information, visit the Department of Health Services’ web site at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/health