The Rockland County Health Department traps adult mosquitos at 15 different sites and at most of those locations, mosquitos have tested positive for West Nile Virus.
Brian Hunderfund, Health Department senior environmental health specialist, says “13 of the 15 sites returned positives.”
That indicates the virus is present throughout the entire county. After the most recent testing during the week of August 8, there were 15 positive results out of a total of 53 samples or about 25 percent of the total. Hunderfund says he is not aware of any confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus this summer in Rockland.
He says given the wet weather pattern the results of mosquito tests they have been seeing are not a surprise.
“It’s not unexpected,” he says. “This year we seem to have an increased level of virus than previous years.”
Beginning in June, the county treats 1,000 breeding sites with larvicides. Usually that number decreases as sites dry out during the summer. However, that is not the case this year.
Last week, the county treated 66 percent of the breeding sites, more than double the 32 percent treated during the same time period in 2010. Also last week, the county used 1,500 pounds of larvicide material compared to 450 pounds used in 2010.
The county will continue to apply larvicide to the known breeding areas until September 16. That date was chosen because mosquitos remain active at dawn and dusk until nighttime temperatures drop into the 50-degree range.
Steps recommended by the health department to “Fight the Bite” and reduce the risk of West Nile virus:
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, plant pots, drip trays and other containers.
- Drill drain holes in the bottoms of recycling containers.
- Make sure that roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
- Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Change the water in birdbaths twice a week.
- Remove all discarded tires.
- Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.
- Remove leaf debris from yards and gardens.
- Clean and properly chlorinate and filtrate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
- Drain water from pool covers or use a larvicide.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water.
- In addition to these steps to eliminate breeding grounds, make sure that all windows and doors have screens and that all screens are in good repair.
Take protective measures when going outside:
- Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
- Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are most active.
- If you are going to be outdoors when or where mosquitoes are active, consider using an insect repellent containing DEET. Use repellents with no more than 30-percent DEET on adults and children over two years of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts suggest it is acceptable to apply repellents with low concentrations of DEET on infants over 2 months old. Parents concerned about products containing DEET should consult their pediatrician or health care provider for specific advice. Follow directions on the label. Some individuals can be allergic to DEET.
Call the Health Department at 845-364-3173 to report potential mosquito breeding sites, such as standing water, discarded tires or swimming pools that are not properly maintained. Mosquitos need only five days to breed.