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First Westchester County, NY West Nile Mosquitoes of 2012

In Lyme Disease, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on July 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Updated: July 20, 2012 8:35 PM

An undated file photo of a mosquito, a

Photo credit: Getty Images | An undated file photo of a mosquito, a carrier for the potentially lethal virus West Nile.

Lab tests have confirmed the first mosquitoes contaminated withWest Nile virus in Westchester County this summer, county health officials said Friday.

The “batch” of mosquitoes — found in Mamaroneck — was sent to a state Department of Health laboratory for testing.

“We expect to find mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus at about this time, so we hope confirmation of their presence reminds residents to take precautions” including using mosquito repellent and wearing protective clothing, Sherlita Amler, Westchester County’s health commissioner, said in a statement.

The midsummer find mirrors results last year, when health officials confirmed the first infected mosquitoes in early August. Overall, 32 batches of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus last year in Westchester County.

Across the river, health authorities in Rockland County found contaminated mosquitoes in late June, at least a month earlier than has been typical. The infected mosquitoes were found in Haverstraw and Ramapo, according to the Rockland County Health Department.

The lab tests prompted a response from County Legis. Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, who blamed County Executive Rob Astorino for trimming the health department’s budget. Because of budget cuts,Jenkins claimed, in 2011 Westchester County applied larvacide to 20,000 fewer catch basins than it did in 2010.

“In matters like public health and safety, I think we have to always move forward with an abundance of caution and vigilance,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Last year, the number of inspections and larvicide applications were reduced sharply from the previous year because of funding cuts by theAstorino Administration, and this short-sighted approach could lead to deadly consequences.”

West Nile virus was first identified in New York in 1999, and since then the virus has spread across the continental U.S. Although most people don’t realize they’ve been exposed, the virus can have serious consequences for the very young or old and people with existing health conditions or compromised immune systems.

West Nile fever, the less-severe form, can lead to symptoms similar to the common cold or flu, including headache, nausea, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, according the Centers for Disease Control.

More serious infections can have debilitating symptoms, such as confusion and loss of consciousness, tremors, muscle weakness and vision loss.

Stagnant water is the best breeding ground for the virus, and Amler urged people to “remove standing water from gutters and play equipment, empty buckets and other containers around your property, and turn over children’s pools after their use.”

The health department offered a list of tips and recommendations:

Avoid the outdoors in the early evening when mosquitoes are active and feeding. Use insect repellents when outdoors during these times, following the repellent directions. Adults can apply insect repellents with up to 30 percent DEET onto their own hands and then rub the repellent onto their children. Products containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under two months old.

Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when outdoors in areas where mosquitoes are feeding.

Check around property for cans, containers and ceramic pots and discard or turn them over.

Check and remove standing water from children’s toys, pools, wheelbarrows and play houses.

Remove discarded tires.

Drill holes in the bottoms of all recycling containers that are left outdoors.

Change the water in birdbaths at least twice weekly.

Sweep driveways after it rains to clear puddles.

Keep storm drains and gutters clear of leaves and debris.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor spas and hot tubs and drain water that collects on their covers.

Residents who notice large areas of standing water on public property that could serve as potential mosquito breeding grounds should report it to the Westchester County Department of Health by calling 914-813-5000 or emailing the Health Department at


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