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Mosquitoes in Erie Co. test positive for West Nile Virus

ERIE COUNTY—Submitted by the Erie County Office of the Commissioner of Health:

Recently, the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center’s Arbovirus Laboratory reported that mosquito pools in Erie County tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“I want to remind residents to minimize exposure to mosquitoes by limiting outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity, such as dusk and dawn. When going outdoors, it is important to cover as much as skin as possible with clothing and to use an effective repellent that contains 25-30 percent DEET on exposed skin. Through our joint prevention efforts, we can halt the spread of West Nile Virus in Erie County” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

WNV is a mosquito-borne illness that is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, the majority of individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people will develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurological illness.

Burstein continued: “Mosquitoes are a summertime nuisance, but by taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of being bitten and possibly contracting a mosquito-borne disease like WNV. Follow these recommendations to keep yourself and your family healthy:

• Eliminate local mosquito breeding sites. Mosquitoes develop in standing water.

• Do not leave standing water for longer than two days before dumping it out.

• Change the water in birdbaths and planter bases every two days.

• Clean clogged gutters to allow rainfall to drain freely.

• Reduce Exposure to Mosquitoes. Avoid mosquito bites by limiting outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity, such as dusk and dawn.

• Mosquito traps, electrocutors (bug zappers), ultrasonic repellers and other devices marketed to prevent mosquitoes from biting people are not effective and should not be relied on to reduce mosquito bites .

• Use barriers to protect skin – mosquito nets/screens for baby strollers/playpens, long sleeves/pants, socks/shoes, hats.

• Discourage mosquitoes from biting. Mosquitoes are attracted to people by odors on the skin and by carbon dioxide from the breath.

• Use an effective repellent during outdoor activities.

• Most effective repellents contain 25-30 percent DEET.

• Products with lower concentrations of DEET will need to be reapplied more often.

• Do not use on cuts, irritated or infected skin.

• Spray on skin and then rub it in

• Do not spray on face; spray on hands then rub it on your face.

• Reapply after sweating or getting wet.

In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that appropriate use of DEET at concentrations of up to 30% posed no significant risk to children or adults but that DEET should not be used on children younger than two months of age because of increased skin permeability.

For more information: Erie County Department of Health – http://www2.erie.gov/health; New York State Department of Health – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/; American Academy of Pediatrics – http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/West-Nile-Virus.aspx.


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