MAYVILLE, N.Y.: - The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services has received confirmation from the New York State Department of Health Arbovirology Laboratory of the detection of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the county. Two mosquito pools, collected from the Audubon, tested positive for the virus in late September. It was also determined that a privately owned horse in the Town of Portland that developed neurological symptoms and was euthanized in September had WNV.
The WNV is a serious viral disease that is transmitted to mammals – including horses and people - through the bite of an infected mosquito. These viruses are not spread people to people, horses to people, or horses to horses. The mosquito species that tested positive for the WNV primarily bites birds.
The active mosquito biting season is nearing an end as adult mosquito activities greatly diminish as the weather cools and the bulk of adult mosquitos are killed with the first hard frost.
"County residents should not be alarmed by this news, but these findings do reinforce the fact that there is a continuing threat of WNV transmission in the county,” said Mark Stow, Director of Environmental Health Services. “It is important that everyone take precautions to reduce exposure to mosquito bites and take steps to reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property. In addition, because horses are particularly sensitive to contracting WNV and there is an effective vaccine for horses, they should be vaccinated.”
Precautions against mosquito bites include wearing socks and shoes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and applying mosquito repellent containing DEET as recommended by manufacturer's guidelines for proper repellent application during outdoor activities, particularly when around wooded areas and at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.
Measures to help reduce mosquito breeding sites on your property include:
• Disposing of outdoor containers that hold water;
• Removing all discarded tires;
• Drilling holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors;
• Cleaning clogged rain gutters and making sure they continue to work properly;
• Turning over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use;
• Changing water in birdbaths at least every four days;
• Clearing vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds;
• Draining water from pool covers; and
• Using landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates.
Individuals most at risk include those who spend considerable time outdoors in areas where there is a presence of WNV as well as those who engage in outdoor work and recreational activities. Individuals younger than age 16 and older than age 50 may be at greatest risk for developing WNV infection.
For more information about the West Nile Virus, visit www.co.chautauqua.ny.us/559/West-Nile-VirusEEE or contact the Division of Public Health Environmental Health Unit at (716) 753-4481.