The Westchester County Department of Health is reminding residents to dump out standing water on their property after it rains, and to use insect repellents when outdoors in the early morning and late afternoon to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that could carry West Nile Virus.
This week, New York City has reported the first case of West Nile, involving a man living in Brooklyn. Westchester has yet to report a human case of the virus, but the county has tested more than 150 mosquito batches and has learned that four of those batches were carriers of the disease. These batches were collected by County Health Department staff in Greenburgh, Yonkers, Rye and Mount Vernon and were sent to New York State Department of Health for testing.
Last year, six positive mosquito batches were found in Westchester County and two human cases of West Nile Virus were reported.
“While finding mosquitoes with the virus in Westchester is to be expected, their presence should serve as a reminder to all residents to remove standing water from their property and to take personal protective measures against mosquito bites when spending time outdoors,” said Westchester County Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler, M.D.
As part of its integrated pest management strategy, the Health Department evaluated more than 53,000 catch basins. Of those, nearly 40,000 that held standing water have been treated with larvicide, and this work is nearly completed. The department also gave away 400 pounds of free minnows to property owners with ponds. The minnows reduce the mosquito population by feeding on larvae and pupae before they emerge into adult mosquitoes. Once positive pools are identified, the Department will also send out inspectors to try to locate and eradicate any standing water. If needed, storm drains in the area also would be retreated with larvicide.
People only get West Nile Virus when they're bitten by a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird. To protect our community, we are asking residents to help reduce the mosquito population.
To help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds:
- Remove from around your home and neighborhood anything that might hold standing water. For example: old tires, buckets and wheelbarrows.
- Cover outdoor trash containers to keep rainwater from accumulating inside
- Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are left outdoors. Sweep driveways after it rains so they are free of puddles.
To reduce your risk of mosquito bites:
- Avoid being outdoors in places and during times where and when mosquitoes are active and feeding.
- Use insect repellents with no more than 30 percent DEET, but use them sparingly and with care.
- DEET should only be applied once a day. Repellents with a concentration of 10 percent are effective for about two hours, and those with a concentration of 24 percent offer about five hours of protection. Repellents containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under two months of age. Carefully read and follow the package directions, and wash treated skin when mosquito exposure has ended.
- Select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors.
- Wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when outdoors and at times when mosquitoes are active.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
Residents who notice large areas of standing water on public property should report this to the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000
The United States Department of Agriculture and the Westchester County Health Department are no longer taking reports of dead birds or submitting birds for West Nile virus testing.
If you find a dead bird, please dispose of it properly. To dispose of a dead bird:
- Use gloves and a double layer of plastic trash bags to pick up the bird.
- Using your gloved hands and a doubled trash bag, enclose the dead bird in the bags.
- Close and tie the bags and dispose in the trash or as directed by your municipality.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
West Nile virus is not transmissible via touching a dead bird. A person must be bitten by an infected mosquito for transmission to occur. If you have any questions please contact the Westchester County Health Department at (914) 813-5000.
West Nile Virus Positive Mosquito Batches 2015
Number of Positive
|Yonkers||1||July 30, 2015|
|Greenburgh||1||July 30, 2015|
|Rye||1||August 5, 2015|
|Hastings-on-Hudson||1||August 5, 2015|
|Mt. Vernon||1||August 6, 2015|
|Rye Brook||1||August 18, 2015|
|Town of Mamaroneck||1||August 31, 2015|
|Yonkers||4||August 31, 2015|
West Nile Virus Data Brief
Insect repellent safety
- Insect repellent use and safety (CDC)
- Insect repellent use and safety in children (FDA) DEET is not recommended for use on children under 2 months of age.
Maps and charts of West Nile Virus activity
- Current WNV Activity (CDC)
Protecting your pets from West Nile Virus
Life cycle of the mosquito
The mosquito goes through four distinct stages during its life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Learn more about the life cycle of the mosquito.
West Nile Virus Resources