Increased Vigilance for West Nile Virus on Fire Island and at William Floyd Estate
Contact: Paula Valentine, Public Affairs, 631-687-4759
Contact: Michael Bilecki, Chief of Resources Management, 631-687-4760
Contact: Jordan Raphael, Park Biologist, 631-687-4769
Patchogue, New York- Fire Island National Seashore announced today that a sample of mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus (WNV) has been found at the William Floyd Estate in Mastic Beach. The National Park Service collected this sample (a pool of 17 mosquitoes) from a light trap in the lower acreage at the Estate on July 17, 2012. Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced earlier this week that they have also collected a positive sample from a pool of 60 mosquitoes on Park Drive near the entrance to the William Floyd Estate. In response, Suffolk County Vector Control will spray for mosquitoes in Mastic Beach outside of the park.
"Due to the location of the Seashore's mosquito trap and its proximity to sensitive natural resources (salt marsh) and the low numbers of mosquitoes," stated superintendent Chris Soller, "Fire Island National Seashore's mosquito management team has decided that a pesticide application within the boundaries of the William Floyd Estate is not necessary at this time." However, additional traps will be utilized in the area to increase sampling sensitivity.
"The species that tested positive, Culex pipiens-restuans, does not generate a major human health concern because it does not readily bite humans," said park biologist Jordan Raphael.
The William Floyd Estate, located at 245 Park Drive in Mastic Beach, is expected to be open during its regular summer hours: Friday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with free tours of the Old Mastic House offered between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
No infected mosquitoes have yet been detected on Fire Island, but residents, visitors and staff are advised to avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active (1 hour before sunset through midnight). Wear protective clothing (shoes, socks, long pants, long-sleeved shirt and a hat) and use an effective insect repellent, such as one containing at least 30% DEET. Non-DEET repellents (e.g. herbal-based sprays) are also effective. (Use much less repellent for children; DEET should only be used with extreme caution on children under age 3.) People most at risk of becoming ill from West Nile virus are those over 50 years of age or whose immune system is impaired. Such people are advised to stay away from areas with mosquitoes.
The WNV-infected mosquitoes were collected in a trap set by the Seashore as part of its weekly monitoring program. Park biologists send the samples to the New York State Department of Health, Arthropod-Borne Disease Program, in Albany for testing. This program is a collaborative effort between the Seashore and Suffolk County Department of Health Services, which announced the positive results on July 27 (See SCDOH press release). The freshwater Culex species of mosquitoes in the pool that tested positive for WNV is not thought to generate a major human health concern, although this species does potentially bite people. No human cases of WNV have yet been confirmed in Suffolk County this year.
While eight WNV-infected dead birds had been reported in Suffolk County through July 2012, none have been found this year in Fire Island National Seashore.
The National Park Service works closely with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U. S. Geological Survey (USGS), the New York State Department of Health (DOH), NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Suffolk County Vector Control (SCVC), and local Fire Island and Long Island municipalities to determine the best course of action to protect residents, visitors and employees of the Seashore. When threats to human health (such as the presence of West Nile virus) occur, actions to protect the public may include control methods such as applying larvicide or spraying.