PLATTSBURGH — Due to increased West Nile virus activity reported across the country, and in New York state, the Clinton County Health Department is taking steps to remind residents how to reduce their risk of exposure to this illness.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. As of last week in New York state, 558 of 4,231 mosquito pools tested were positive for the virus, 11 humans have also tested positive, resulting in one fatality in Onondaga County. Weekly disease surveillance information on West Nile is shared with all county health departments.
Ongoing active surveillance continues in many counties in New York, said a Health Department press release. Although no active testing of mosquito pools is occurring presently in Clinton County, historical data from previous years indicated that mosquitoes submitted for testing were positive for the virus during the late summer months. Clinton County and the surrounding region should be considered an area that has the virus based on past years’ surveillance program activity.
“Residents need to take action steps to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitos that may carry West Nile virus or other encephalitis-type illnesses,” said Health Departmen
t Director Jerie Reid. “These steps are simple, yet effective.”
The Health Department advises:
Wear clothing with long pants and long sleeves while outdoors for long periods of time.
Try to limit time outdoors during hours of dawn and dusk when mosquitos are more active.
Use mosquito netting over infant carriers.
Reduce the number of mosquitos in your area by getting rid of containers with standing water that provide breeding places for mosquitoes.
▶ Use insect repellent to reduce your exposur
e to mosquito bites. Use repellent that contains the active ingredient DEET or Picaridin. These are considered to protect from mosquito bites for longer periods of time than products that do not, the Health Department said. Follow manufacturer directions closely when using any insect repellent.
While close to 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus (about four of five) will not show any symptoms, 20 percent may experience fever, headache, neck stiffness, body aches, nausea, muscle weakness, vision loss, convulsions, numbness and paralysis, says the Health Department.
These symptoms may last several weeks, and some neurological effects may be permanent. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical guidance from their health-care provider.
For additional information on West Nile virus, go to www.
clintonhealth.org or www.new