West Nile Virus (“WNV”) has been identified in a mosquito pool in Erie County, in the Town of Amherst. The New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”) regularly conducts this testing and recently identified this case.
In an effort to protect the public, the Town of Amherst, routinely conducts mosquito surveillance throughout the warm weather months of the year. While no other local surveillance is being conducted, the Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) highly suspects that other areas also have similar West Nile Virus mosquito pools.
ECDOH strongly recommends that all residents protect themselves from mosquito bites whether close to home or traveling outside the Western New York area.
“We have not had a confirmed case of West Nile Virus in Erie County since October 2012 and we want to ensure it stays that way,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “I want to remind residents how to minimize exposure to mosquitoes: limit outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity (dusk and dawn), cover as much as skin as possible with clothing when going outdoors and use an effective insect repellant that contains 25-30% DEET on exposed skin. These same precautionary measures will also help protect people from other insect-borne diseases.”
WNV is a mosquito-borne illness that is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, the majority of individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. Approximately one in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people will develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurological illness.
“Mosquitoes are an unavoidable summertime nuisance. By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of being bitten and possibly contracting a mosquito-borne disease like WNV,” Dr. Burstein said.
Recommendations to Stay Healthy:
· Eliminate local mosquito breeding sites–mosquitoes develop in standing water
o Do not leave standing water for longer than two days before dumping it out
o Change water in birdbaths and planter bases every two days
o Clean clogged gutters to allow rainfall to drain freely
· Reduce exposure to mosquitoes–avoid mosquito bites by limiting outdoor activities during the times of high mosquito activity at dusk and dawn.
· Mosquito traps, electrocutors (bug zappers), ultrasonic repellers, and similar devices purported to prevent mosquitoes from biting people are not effective. Do not rely on them to reduce mosquito bites and do not waste money on them
· Use barriers to protect skin, like mosquito nets/screens for baby strollers/playpens, long sleeves/pants, socks/shoes, and hats
· Discourage mosquitoes from biting. Mosquitoes are attracted to people by odors on the skin so avoid wearing scented lotions or cologne/perfume.
· Mosquitoes are also attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled from the breath, but we do not recommend you stop breathing
· Use an effective repellant with a concentration of 25 to 30% DEET during outdoor activities.
§ Spray on skin & then rub it in
§ Do not spray on face–spray on your hands and then rub it on your face
§ Reapply repellant after sweating or getting wet
§ Products with lower concentrations of DEET need to be reapplied more often
§ Do not use on cuts, irritated, or infected skin