The bird in Selden, an American robin, was collected on June 16 and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced the positive West Nile test on Wednesday.
It's the first bird to test positive for the virus in the county this year and there have so far been no reports of humans, mosquitoes or horses testing positive for West Nile, which is spread to humans by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and then bite humans. Humans cannot contract the virus directly from birds.
Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile in the area, officials said, and residents are being encouraged to report sightings of dead birds to the Department of Health Services’ Public Health Hotline at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
County workers will collect crows, blue jays, hawks and American robins between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If it is determined by health officials that a reported bird is not needed for testing or if a dead bird is discovered on a weekend, residents should take proper precautionary measures: put the dead bird into a doubled bag, using gloves and a shovel, and dispose of it in the trash.
Last year, four people–all over the age of 50–in Suffolk County were diagnosed with West Nile. Three of them were hospitalized and all have since recovered.
“Most people experience no symptoms from West Nile virus, however, some people will develop severe symptoms, including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis," Commissioner of Health Services James Tomarken said in a press release Wednesday. "The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.”
To reduce chances of being bitten by mosquitoes, residents are advised to:
- minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn;
- wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are more active;
- use mosquito repellent when outdoors, following label directions carefully;
- make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that screens are in good repair; and
- eliminate all standing water around their homes.
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, contact your health care provider or call 631-854-0333 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For further information on mosquitos and mosquito-borne diseases, visit the Department of Health Services’ website at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/health and look under “Seasonal Trends.”