West Nile Virus Detected in Mosquitoes near Watch Hill

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Date: October 2, 2012
Contact: Paula Valentine, 631-687-4759

Patchogue, New York- Fire Island National Seashore announced that a sample of mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus (WNV) was detected in the western section of Watch Hill, near the community of Davis Park on Fire Island. The National Park Service collected this sample (a pool of 40 mosquitoes) from a light trap about 50 meters east of the Watch Hill/Davis Park border on September 19, 2012.

"Due to the location of the Seashore's mosquito trap near sensitive wetlands, and the low numbers of both mosquitoes and people at this time of year," stated superintendent Chris Soller, "Fire Island National Seashore's mosquito management team and Suffolk County Vector Control has decided that a pesticide application in the Seashore is not necessary at this time." However, additional traps will be utilized in the area to increase sampling sensitivity.

Although it is late in the season and mosquitoes are not as likely to be encountered, residents, visitors and staff are advised to avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active (1 hour before sunset through midnight). If you can't avoid mosquitoes, 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, which normally runs from the first week of June through late September or early October. 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. 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. Eight human cases of WNV have been confirmed in Suffolk County this year.

No WNV-infected dead birds have been reported 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.

More information about Fire Island National Seashore's program is available at www.nps.gov/fiis.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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