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Mosquito Samples Test Positive for West Nile Virus In Suffolk County

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Suffolk County residents are being asked to eliminate stagnant water after mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus.

Twelve mosquito samples collected earlier this month in Huntington, Greenlawn, Northport, East Northport, Nesconset, Holtsville, Selden, Farmingville and Aquebogue showed evidence of the virus, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services said.

"The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population," said Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken. "While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which can be debilitating to humans."

Although most people may experience mild or no symptoms, Dr. Tomarken said some can develop severe symptoms, including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

A total of 16 mosquito samples and two birds have tested positive for the virus in Suffolk County this year.

Anthony Esposito of East Yaphank told CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff it felt like the flu, but worse.

"I felt like I was on death's door. The sheer pain of just moving my eyes was tremendous," Esposito said.

After four days in the hospital, a spinal tap came back positive for West Nile Virus, and if  the state Department of Health  confirms, he'd be the first official case in the state this year.

The  illness claimed 22 lives on Long Island in the last 14 summers.

"I think it has to be included in the differential of things this time of year that can cause headaches, body aches, fevers," Dr. Susan Donelan said.

Donelan, an infectious diseases specialist at Stony Brook Medicine, said only 1 in 5 victims will develop the serious symptoms that Esposito did, including headaches, body aches, fever, disorientation and even possible paralysis.

Seniors are most at risk, which is why Esposito, 38, said West Nile never crossed his mind.

"I was scared. I didn't know what I had. The doctors didn't know what I had," he said. "Thank God I'm here talking to you and giving advice to everyone out there to be careful."

Officials will be out in several areas Tuesday conducting aerial sprays in an attempt to combat the issue.

To reduce the mosquito population around homes residents are urged to:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
  • Remove all discarded tires on the property.
  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change the water in birdbaths.
  • Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and keep shrubs and grass trimmed.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.

To avoid mosquito bites residents are advised to:

  • Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are more active.
  • Use mosquito repellent when outdoors, following label directions carefully.
  • Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.

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