MOUNT VERNON, NY — August 26, 2019 — Westchester County recommends residents follow the Health Department’s West Nile Virus prevention advice to avoid mosquito bites by removing standing water after it rains and using repellents.
Although there have been no cases of West Nile Virus in New York State as of Aug. 22, the Westchester County Department of Health is highlighting these prevention recommendations now because Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties and New York City have identified mosquitoes with West Nile Virus, in a combined 218 batches of mosquitoes. While no mosquitoes in Westchester County have yet tested positive for the virus, out of the 181 batches of mosquitoes tested since June 13, the Health Department expects to find them here soon.
The Health Department prepared for the mosquito season by educating the public through news releases, flyers, social media and our website. The Health Department also gave 450 pounds of free fathead minnows to residents with ponds to reduce the mosquito population. The minnows reduce the mosquito population by feeding on larvae and pupae before they emerge into adult mosquitoes.
Throughout the season, the Department also traps and tests mosquitoes to track the presence of mosquito-borne viruses in the County. Last year, 10 local batches of mosquitoes had West Nile Virus out of 393 submitted for testing, with the first collected on July 24, and four people were diagnosed with West Nile Virus. In 2017, the virus was identified in five local mosquito batches out of 380 submitted for testing and three people were diagnosed with West Nile Virus.
West Nile Virus infection most often causes a mild or moderate flu-like illness, but can be more serious particularly for people 60 and older, and those with other health complications.
To reduce the chances for mosquitoes to breed and bite around your home, watch this brief video on the Department of Health website at http://health.westchestergov.com/west-nile-virus and follow these tips:
- Avoid the outdoors in the late afternoon and early evening when mosquitoes are active and feeding, and use insect repellents when outdoors during these times. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
- Adults can apply insect repellents with up to 30 percent DEET on infants over two months of age by applying the product to their own hands and then rubbing their hands on their children. Products containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under two months of age.
- Wear protective clothing, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks, when outdoors, especially in areas where mosquitoes are active and feeding.
- Check around your property for tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that should be discarded or turned over to prevent collecting water.
- Check and remove standing water from children’s toys and play houses left outside.
- Remove discarded tires.
- Drill holes in the bottoms of all recycling containers that are left outdoors.
- Turn over plastic wading pools, buckets and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Change the water in birdbaths at least twice weekly.
- Keep storm drains and gutters clear of leaves and debris.
- Even with the swimming season over, continue to chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor spas and hot tubs until properly winterized or drained for the season. Also, if not chlorinated, drain any water that collects on their covers.
Residents who notice large areas of standing water on public property are asked to report them to the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000.