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Editorial: Who Knows Where Or When...

The Nassau County Department of Health reported the first confirmed case of West Nile virus (WNV) in a Nassau County resident this year.

It stated that the individual is an adult female over the age of 70 who resides in the Town of Oyster Bay. She became ill with symptoms consistent with West Nile virus on Friday, July 27, was hospitalized and is now recovering.

This newspaper called the DOH to find out in which area the victim lived. As an East Norwich resident, I have felt more or less safe sitting in front of our house drinking coffee on a summer morning – when we felt two mosquito bites. I wanted to find out how safe I was, and where the infected person lived.

Interestingly we discovered that the DOH will not give the location of the person who received the mosquito bite because of NYS privacy laws. Therefore the DOH will not tell where the person was infected nor their name or age.

We also learned an interesting lesson in that the person may have been exposed to the virus somewhere else. The DOH’s message to the public is that standing water is a problem and the best thing they can do is be concerned for their personal protection themselves.

In past years towns have been specifically located, but the DOH spokesperson said, “It doesn’t mean that is where they got the virus. Usually people who go outdoors are those who get the virus. People who get around.  It is important to be proactive.”

She said the typical house mosquito flies in a radius of around 200 feet from your home.

When I mentioned I had heard the south shore had been sprayed for the virus, she added that Bayville too had been sprayed. She said they did robo-calls to Bayville to alert residents that they were spraying to prevent West Nile Virus.

The DOH sent out a press release with helpful information. It said, “To date, 58 mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile virus in Nassau County this year. Nassau County departments of Health and Public Works will continue their mosquito control efforts by inspecting breeding sites and, when indicated, conducting localized ground treatment to control mosquitoes that may be carrying West Nile virus. Mosquito surveillance will continue at 42 trap sites located throughout the county.”

The Nassau County DOH offers the following tips to help eliminate mosquito breeding and prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus:

• Remove or empty standing water from children’s outdoor toys, flowerpots, garbage cans, pails, or any object that can hold water.

• Make sure roof gutters drain properly.

• Keep swimming pools chlorinated and their covers free of stagnant water.

• Change the water in birdbaths every two or three days.

• Install window and door screens and keep them in good repair.

• Consider wearing long sleeves, pants, socks and mosquito repellent (according to directions) if outdoors when mosquitoes are active, especially in the late afternoon and evening hours.

• Decorative ponds and water features should be circulated or chlorinated if they do not contain fish to prevent mosquito breeding.

For mosquito, stagnant water, or drainage problems, call the Nassau County Department of Public Works at: 571-6900. Additional West Nile virus information may be found on the Nassau County Department of Health website at Nassaucountyny.gov. Look up agencies, and click on health to find the information.          

— DFK