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Mosquito

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Huntington Hospital is taking preventative steps to ensure its patients know how to combat the Zika virus.

The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a “public health emergency of international concern” this week, just days after three Long Island patients tested positive for the virus. The Centers for Disease Control issued a travel alert for anyone going to regions including South America and Latin America, and Huntington Hospital officials said they were making sure to educate their patients about the symptoms and steps to take if diagnosed with the viral infection that is being spread through mosquitoes.

Denise Naval, director of infection, prevention and control at Huntington Hospital, said that while there is currently no treatment for the virus, there are several precautions a person can take to fight off the mosquito-related Zika.

Naval said the virus is closely related to Yellow Fever, the West Nile Virus and the Dengue virus, which are all also spread through mosquito bites. She said the Zika virus is spread from the Aedes mosquito, specifically.

There are two types of Aedes species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, but only the former currently carries Zika with it and it is not native to Long Island, she said. It’s most common in tropical areas of the world. The latter does not currently carry the virus and is found in certain parts of the United States, including Long Island, she said.

Naval also said Zika can not only be transmitted from a mosquito to a human, but also vice versa — from a human to a mosquito.

“Only 20 percent of people will get symptoms,” Naval said in a phone interview. “Eighty percent of people infected won’t even know they are.”

According to the CDC, symptoms from the Zika virus include a fever, rash, joint pain, headaches and more.

Once infected, the CDC says patients must get rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, and take medicine such as acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the New York State Department of Health, in conjunction with the CDC, would offer free blood test screenings for individuals who have traveled to areas where the Zika virus is going on.

“We’re working closely with the CDC and local health departments to address potential cases of Zika Virus, and by offering free testing we are helping to stay ahead of this disease and protect the public health,” Cuomo said in a press release.

Naval said if anyone must travel to the tropic regions, where Zika is a problem, there are some key precautions they can take.

“Make sure to use bug spray with DEET; stay indoors with air conditioning if you can because insects prefer heat; and wear long sleeves and long pants,” she said.

Aside from a warning for all travelers to avoid these tropic areas, there is also an extra precaution for pregnant women, as there is an added risk for a child whose mother has the Zika virus while pregnant.

The baby can be born with microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder where a baby is born with a smaller head than usual, or other neurological and autoimmune complications, officials said.

According to the WHO, in countries like Brazil there has been an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly. This specific brain disorder is linked to seizures, developmental delays in speech and walking, intellectual disabilities, feeding and vision problems, and more, according to the CDC.

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Thirteen more mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County, bringing the total this year to 192, according to Dr. James L. Tomarken, the county’s health commissioner.

The samples were collected from Sept. 15 through Sept. 17, from the following areas: three from West Babylon, one from North Patchogue, one from Selden, one from Patchogue, one from Port Jefferson Station, one from Setauket, one from South Huntington, one from Bay Shore, one from Islip, one from Holbrook and one from Smithtown.

One human has tested positive for West Nile this year. The 55-year-old man from the Town of Islip was admitted to a local hospital in late August upon experiencing symptoms consistent with the virus, according to a Suffolk County Department of Health Services statement on Sept. 11.

The virus, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” Tomarken said. “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”

To reduce the mosquito population around homes, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. Other tips include disposing of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers; removing discarded tires on the property; making sure roof gutters drain properly, and cleaning clogged gutters; turning over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use; changing the water in birdbaths; cleaning vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and keeping shrubs and grass trimmed; cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs; and draining water from pool covers.

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 Dr. Tomarken. 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.

There are a number of ways to avoid mosquito bites. Residents are advised to minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn; wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are more active; use repellent; and make sure all windows and doors have screens.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Suffolk County Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 852-4270.

For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 854-0333.

To learn more about how mosquitoes are captured and tested for mosquito-borne diseases in Suffolk County, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtaO-GkF8Yc

To learn more about how mosquitoes are prepared for West Nile virus testing, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebOvsdiln-8.

For further information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website: https://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/HealthServices/PublicHealth/PreventiveServices/ArthropodborneDiseaseProgram/PreventingMosquitoBorneIllnesses.aspx

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Nineteen more mosquitoes and two birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in various neighborhoods across Suffolk County, Health Commissioner Dr. James L. Tomarken announced on Monday.

The mosquito samples, collected from Aug. 17 to 19, hailed from: Lindenhurst, West Babylon, Northport, Huntington Station, South Huntington, Greenlawn, Commack, Nesconset, Smithtown, Saltaire on Fire Island, Port Jefferson, Farmingville, Holtsville, Yaphand, Southold and East Hampton. Two blue jays collected on Aug. 14 from Stony Brook and a blue jay collected on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 from Smithtown, also tested positive for the virus.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples or birds indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” Tomarken said. “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”

To date, this year Suffolk’s total West Nile count comes to 99 mosquitoes and seven birds. No humans or horses have tested positive for the virus in Suffolk this year.

First detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk in 1999, and again each year thereafter, the virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

While Dr. Tomarken said there’s no cause for alarm, the county is urging residents to reduce exposure to the virus, which “can be debilitating to humans.”

“The breed of mosquito known as culex pipiens/restuans lay their eggs in fresh water-filled containers, so dumping rainwater that collects in containers around your house is important,” he said.

Residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed, in order to reduce the mosquito population around homes. That includes: disposing of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers; removing discarded tires; cleaning clogged gutters; turning over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when they’re not being used; changing the water in bird baths; and draining water from pool covers

Most people infected with West Nile 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. 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.

Residents are advised to avoid mosquito bites by: minimizing outdoor activities between dusk and dawn; wearing shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are more active; using mosquito repellent when outdoors, following label directions carefully; and making sure all windows and doors have screens and that all screens are in good condition.

To report dead birds, call the West Nile virus hot line in Suffolk County at 631-787-2200 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 medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 631-854-0333.

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Mosquito samples from Port Jefferson Station, Rocky Point and East Northport have tested positive for West Nile virus, Suffolk County Health Services Commissioner James Tomarken announced on Friday.

In total, six mosquito samples tested positive for the virus, bringing this year’s total to 13. While the insects were infected, no humans, horses or birds have tested positive for the virus in Suffolk County this year.

Two samples collected from Port Jefferson Station on July 14; one sample collected from Rocky Point on July 16; and one sample collected from East Northport on July 17 tested positive, according to a press release from the health services department. Two other samples were gathered from Copiague and Dix Hills.

West Nile virus was first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999, and is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. According to the Center for Disease Control, 70 to 80 percent of those infected with the virus do not develop any of the symptoms, which can include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and rash. Severe cases — less than 1 percent of infections — could lead to a neurological illness.

Tomarken said while there is no cause for alarm, his department is asking residents to help in their efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus.

First, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. Popular breeding grounds include tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires, wading pools, wheelbarrows and birdbaths. In addition, residents can make sure their roof gutters are draining properly, clean debris from the edges of ponds and drain water from pool covers.

To avoid mosquito bites, residents should minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, cover up when mosquitoes are most active, use repellent and make sure windows and doors have screens in good repair.

To report dead birds, which may indicate the presence of the virus, residents should call the county’s West Nile virus hotline at 631-787-2200 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 vector control division at 631-852-4270.

For medical related questions, call 631-854-0333.