Rockland Announces 1st Human Case of West Nile Virus

ROCKLAND COUNTY, NY – The first human case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in Rockland County for 2022.

County Executive Ed Day and Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said Thursday that the infected person lives in Ramapo and is over 50 years old.

Ruppert said the human condition of the virus reinforces the urgency of people’s need to continue checking their properties to protect themselves from mosquito bites and rid of water where mosquitoes breed.

“Some mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn when the weather is calm and females are more likely to bite,” he said. “But other mosquitoes will feed at any time of the day.”

Ruppert said people should use insect repellent when outdoors to protect themselves from bites.

Medical experts said most of the mosquitoes did not test positive for the viruses that cause the disease. However, a bite from a West Nile virus-infected mosquito can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death.

Although a person’s chance of getting sick is low, those 50 and older are at high risk of serious illness. Not everyone infected with West Nile virus will get sick.

However, West Nile can cause serious complications, including neurological disease, and can also cause a milder flu-like illness, including fever, headache and body aches, nausea, and sometimes a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, see your doctor right away.

Although the chances of a person getting sick are small, it is important to reduce your risk of being bitten. Take the following steps:

  • Cover as completely as possible. Wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are more active.
  • Always use mosquito repellent that should be applied according to label directions. Do not use repellent on babies younger than 2 months. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years of age.
  • Cover baby carriers with mosquito netting when outside.
  • Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Close doors and make sure all windows and doors have screens and that there are no rips, tears or holes in the screens.

Officials lay mosquito eggs in stagnant water. The eggs hatch into larvae that develop in water for 7-10 days before emerging as flying and biting adults. Many mosquito species, including those that can spread disease, lay their eggs in objects around the house, such as birdbaths, unused flower pots, discarded tires and even bottle caps, as well as in small ponds or other bodies of stagnant water.

The best and most effective mosquito control starts in your backyard. Even the smallest amount of standing water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Eliminating standing water is the first step in reducing mosquito breeding.

Below are some tips you should follow:

  • Check your property for anything that could be holding water. Anything you choose to store outside, such as children’s toys, buckets, wading pools, canoes, and wheelbarrows, should be turned over when not in use to prevent pooling.
  • Dig holes in the bottoms of recycling containers and remove all discarded tires.
  • If you have a pool or spa that is not in use, drain the water over the cover or treat standing water with Mosquito Dunks® and post accordingly. Dunks are available for free at the Health Department, Building D, 50 Sanatorium Road, Pomona, Monday through Friday by appointment only, until October 31 or while supplies last. Call 845-364-3173 or email to arrange a pickup.
  • Close water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) tightly to prevent mosquitoes from entering to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than adult mosquitoes.
  • Use an outdoor flying insect spray where mosquitoes are resting. Mosquitoes rest in dark, damp places, such as under patio furniture or under a carport or garage. Always follow label directions when using insecticides.
  • If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or leaks. Cover exposed vent or plumbing pipes. Use wire mesh with smaller holes than an adult mosquito.
  • Make sure roof gutters are properly drained, clear vegetation and debris around ponds, and clear leaf litter from yards and gardens.

To learn more about reducing mosquito breeding on your property, call the Health Department at 845-364-3173 or visit this website. To learn more about West Nile virus, visit the New York State website.

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