Rockland County has learned of its first human case of West Nile Virus, which was recently diagnosed in a 50-year-old resident.
“West Nile Virus has had a presence in our County since 1999, in the bird and mosquito population. We are grateful that our first documented human case was a mild infection and our resident is doing well,” said Joan H. Facelle, Rockland County Commissioner of Health.
The RCDOH also reported that he did not need hospitalization because it was such a mild case.
To date, 667 mosquito samples were submitted for testing to the New York State Department of Health, and 175 of these samples in Rockland County tested positive for the West Nile Virus.
At the end of August, the county health department reported record numbers of mosquito pools testing positive for west nile. Westchester saw its first human case of west nile in August as well. They had their second case in September.
A bite from an infected mosquito can spread West Nile Virus. Many people who contract the virus don't know they have it and thus don't report it because 80 percent experience no symptoms. Up to 20 percent develop mild symptoms including fever, headaches, body aches and possibly a skin rash or swollen lymph glands.
As the fall season approaches, the County expects the likelihood of more transmission of illness to be reduced. Residents should continue to do their part by taking personal protection measures and removing standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
“We especially encourage our residents to take the proper precautions to reduce their risk of infection both at home as well as when traveling outside of the County," said Facelle.
During the summer mosquito season, the Health Department did the following in an effort to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases:
- Applied larvicide briquettes to catch basins and treated 900 open breeding locations
- Stocked mosquito eating fish in 350 locations, and held a fish giveaway day at which 100 individuals picked up fish for release into their ponds, ornamental ponds, etc.
- Provided mosquito dunks to 425 homeowners for their pools, and inspected all permitted pools
- Inspected 245 tire storage facilities to make sure that the tires were being stored in a manner to prevent mosquito breeding
- Responded to 100 complaints concerning poorly maintained homeowner swimming pools and container storage, and to 250 complaints concerning mosquito breeding
While your chances of being infected with a disease through a mosquito bite are very small, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of being bitten:
- Check your yard for ANY items that can hold water. Even the smallest amount of standing water can serve as a breeding site. Get rid of the items or empty the water out at least once a week.
- Drill drain holes in the bottoms of recycling containers, turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use, and remove all discarded tires.
- Make sure that roof gutters drain properly.
- Clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and remove leaf debris from yards and gardens.
- Clean and properly chlorinate and filtrate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Drain water from pool covers or use a larvicide, such as Mosquito Dunks®. The Health Department provides free Mosquito Dunks® to private residential pool owners ONLY for use in swimming pool covers or in uncovered swimming pools that are not being disinfected and filtered.
- Make sure that all windows and doors have screens and that all screens are in good repair.
In addition, although it is not necessary to cut down on any outdoor activities, you can reduce the risk of being bitten by protecting yourself and your family in the following ways:
- Minimize outdoor activities when mosquitoes are active.
- Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are most active.
- If you are going to be outdoors when or where mosquitoes are active, consider using an insect repellent. Follow directions on the label.
To learn more, visit http://rocklandgov.com/departments/health/environmental-health/mosquito-control/ or call the Health Department at 364-3173. To learn more about West Nile Virus, visit the New York State Department of Health website at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/west_nile_virus/fact_sheet.htm.