HOLTSVILLE, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — Another mosquito sample from Holtsville has tested positive for West Nile virus. The sample was among six positives from the most-recently announced tests for the virus from across Suffolk County, health officials announced late Monday afternoon.
Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott announced the six mosquito samples to test positive were collected on Sept. 1 from Holtsville, Northport, Port Jefferson Station, Setauket, Stony Brook, and West Babylon.
“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” said Pigott. “While there is no cause for undue concern, we advise residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce exposure to West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”
West Nile virus across Sachem
In the Sachem area before today's announcement, the most-recent samples to test positive came from Farmingville and Holtsville during sample testing from Aug. 25 to 27. The first positive within Sachem came from a Holtsville sample collected in mid-July. That was followed by another sample in neighboring North Patchogue, just outside Sachem, during the following week, and more positives from Farmingville on Aug. 6. and Aug. 19 and 20.
West Nile virus across Suffolk County
To date this season, 82 mosquito samples and four birds have tested positive for West Nile virus.
Prior to today's announcement of six positives, there 16 positives reported — the most at one time so far this year — on Sept. 4 from collections taken Aug. 25 to 27.
Fourteen positives reported on Aug. 27 from collections on Aug. 19 and 20 in Bay Shore, Brentwood, Cold Spring Harbor, Farmingville, Islip, Lindenhurst, Northport, Rocky Point, Stony Brook, and West Babylon.
Nine positives were announced on Aug. 21 from collections on Aug. 11 and 12 in Bay Shore, Cold Spring Harbor, Copiague, Greenlawn, Northport, West Babylon, and West Islip.
Fourteen positives were announced on Aug. 13 from collections on Aug. 6 from Bay Shore, Bohemia, Brentwood, Cold Spring Harbor, Copiague, Farmingville, Northport, and West Islip.
On Aug. 6, five positive samples were announced from samples collected on July 28 in Bay Shore, Brentwood, Greenlawn, and Northport.
Fifteen positive samples were reported on July 30 from collections on July 21 and 22. Those positives came from Bay Shore, Brentwood, Great River, Huntington Station, Islip, North Patchogue, Stony Brook, and West Babylon.
On July 24, Pigott said two samples tested positive from samples collection on July 14 and 15 in Bay Shore and Holtsville.
Those positives followed the county's July 16 announcement of the season's first positive sample, which came from a July 9 collection in Bay Shore.
Health impacts of West Nile virus
There has not yet been a human case this year in Suffolk County. The county reported two human cases in September 2019. In those cases, one person developed symptoms and was hospitalized for several days before being discharged. The second individual was hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis and was also discharged.
West Nile virus was first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter.
The virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, according to the health department. The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Individuals, especially those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, who are most at risk, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Avoid mosquito bites to prevent West Nile virus
Pigott offers the following tips to avoid mosquito bites:
• Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
• Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitoes are active.
• Use mosquito repellent, following label directions carefully.
• Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.
• Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home. Once a week, empty and scrub containers that hold water, such as vases, pet water bowls, flower pot saucers, discarded tires, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, trash cans, and rain barrels.
Report dead birds and mosquito problems
Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the Bureau of Public Health Protection at 631-852-5999 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residents are encouraged to take a photograph of any bird in question.
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.
For further information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website.