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Westchester's First West Nile Virus Case of 2012

Health Department urges residents to take precautions against mosquitoes.

Westchester County has learned of its first human case of this year, which was recently diagnosed in a 28-year-old New Rochelle resident who is recovering at home after being hospitalized, according to the Westchester County Department of Health.

The agency says it conducted a environmental assessment of the local area around the individual’s home for signs of mosquito breeding activity nearby. Residents were advised to remove any standing water from their properties and several catch basins in the area were retreated with larvacide.

As in prior years, the Health Department prepared for the summer mosquito season by applying larvicide briquettes to street catch basins that held standing water on county and local roads in an effort to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as the West Nile virus. The Health Department urges residents to continue to do their part by taking personal protection measures and removing standing water where mosquitoes can breed. 

So far this year, 22 positive mosquito batches were identified in Westchester, starting about a month ago. Last year at about this time, 26 positive mosquito batches had been found in the county, with the first batch identified in early August, and of West Nile virus were reported.

There were no deaths.

“Despite a surge in West Nile Virus activity nationwide, so far mosquito activity in Westchester is on par with last year,’’ said Rick Morrissey, deputy commissioner for environmental health. “The county health department conducted extensive mosquito prevention efforts again this year, larvaciding over 40,000 street catch basins.  We will continue to monitor mosquito activity and recommend that residents are vigilant about removing standing water on their property.’’

Just last week, the . Texas is among the states with the biggest problem.

West Nile Virus infection most often causes a mild or moderate flu-like illness, but can be more serious and potentially fatal in people 50 and older, and  those with other health complications. 

To help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds where you live:

  • Get rid of all water-holding containers, especially old tires, cans, buckets, drums, wheelbarrows and bottles.
  • 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 that 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% DEET, but use them sparingly and with care.
  • Select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors.
  • Products with concentrations around 10% are effective for periods of approximately two hours.
  • A concentration of 24% has been shown to provide an average of five hours of protection. DEET should not be applied more than once a day.
  • Products containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under 2 months of age. Carefully read and follow directions on the container and wash treated skin when mosquito exposure has ended.
  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when outdoors in areas and at times where and when mosquitoes are active.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
  • Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

For more information on the Health Department’s larviciding and West Nile virus prevention activities, call the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000 or visit www.westchestergov.com/health.

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