| by Bob Kimmel |
While no mosquitoes found so far this year in Westchester County have tested positive for West Nile Virus, the County Health Department is recommending some precautions regarding the disease. Primarily, it is urging residents to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes collected in Rockland County, in Queens and Staten Island have tested positive for the West Nile Virus, according to the Health Department. “Given the fact that our neighbors have reported positive mosquitoes, it is safe to assume that mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus are also present here in Westchester County,” Commissioner of Health, Dr. Sherlita Amler said.
“The recent rain we’ve had also provides optimal breeding conditions for mosquitoes that can carry the virus,” Dr. Amler explained. “I urge all residents to remove standing water from their property and to take personal protective measures against mosquito bites when spending time outdoors,” she cautioned.
Two human cases of the disease occurred last year in the county and seven batches of mosquitoes were found to be positive for West Nile Virus. More than 40 batches of mosquitoes have been sent for testing by The Health Department since June. It will be continuing the testing throughout the season. The Department makes the following recommendations to help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds:
- Remove standing water around your home. After it rains, walk around and look for toys, flower pots or similar water-holding containers that should be overturned or put inside to avoid collecting water.
- Cover outdoor trash containers to keep rainwater from accumulating inside.
- Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are left outdoors.
- Clean roof gutters and remove standing water from flat roofs.
- Drain water in birdbaths, plant pots and drip trays twice a week.
- Sweep driveways after it rains so they are free of puddles.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.
To reduce your risk of mosquito bites:
- Avoid being outdoors in places and during times where and when mosquitoes are active and feeding.
- Use insect repellents with no more than 30 percent DEET, but use them sparingly and with care.
- Select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors.
- DEET should only be applied once a day. Repellents with a concentration of 10 percent are effective for about two hours, and those with a concentration of 24 percent offer about five hours of protection. Repellents containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under two months of age. Carefully read and follow the package directions, and wash treated skin when mosquito exposure has ended.
- Wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when outdoors and at times when mosquitoes are active.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
Residents who notice large areas of standing water on public property should report this to the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000 or by email at www.westchestergov.com/health.