Long Island Pols Call on CDC for West Nile Help

Male Mosquito
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Culex pipiens-restuans, or “house mosquito,” such as this one.

Long Island lawmakers are asking for help from federal health experts in the battle against West Nile virus just as 14 mosquito samples have tested positive in the past week.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) and Suffolk County Legis. Steve Stern (D-Huntington) aired their concerns at a news conference Monday at Mill Dam Park in Halesite. Israel wrote to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention requesting that the agency team up with the Suffolk County Department of Health on the issue.

“We need to be vigilant,” Stern said while reminding the public to dump standing water from their yards to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. “We need to be proactive.”

Dominick Ninivaggi, of the Suffolk County Public Works Vector Control, said 10 samples span from Babylon to East Hampton, meaning that the virus is circulating within the county’s mosquito population.

The news came the same day that Nassau County health officials reported finding four mosquito samples that tested positive.

There have not been any human cases of West Nile this year and one Suffolk County resident was infected last year. In 2010, there was six people on Long Island who died of complications related to contracting the virus, although they also had other medical conditions.

“With West Nile virus appearing around Suffolk County, the CDC and its partners in the federal government need to do all they can to protect Long Islanders,” Israel said. “We need all levels of government to work together to make sure that Long Islanders know how to protect themselves, and this does not turn into a serious public health issue.”

Ninivaggi also expressed that the mild winter and warm spring are cause for concern. New to the county this summer is the Asian tiger mosquito, which Ninivaggi said bite during the day instead of at dusk, like many mosquitoes on LI.

Officials reminded the public to spray themselves with bug repellent, wear long sleeves and avoid outdoor activities at sundown to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes. The season runs through Nov. 1.

For more information on the West Nile Virus visit the CDC’s website.