National Park Service Urges Visitors to Fire Island National Seashore to take measures against West Nile Virus-Carrying Mosquitoes

Fire Island National Seashore announced today that a sample of mosquitoes
infected with West Nile virus (WNV) has been found on Fire Island.  The
National Park Service collected the mosquitoes on August 20 from a light
trap at the Watch Hill employee housing area.

Residents, visitors and staff are advised to avoid being outside when
mosquitoes are most active (1 hour before sunset through midnight). Wear
protective clothing (shoes, socks, long pants, long-sleeved shirt and a
hat) and use an effective insect repellent, such as one containing at least
30% DEET. Non-DEET repellents (e.g. herbal-based sprays) are also
effective. (Use much less repellent for children; DEET should only be used
with extreme caution on children under age 3.)  People most at risk of
becoming ill from West Nile virus are those over 50 years of age or whose
immune system is impaired.  Such people are advised to stay away from areas with mosquitoes.

The WNV-infected mosquitoes were from a trap set by the Park as part of its
weekly monitoring program.  Testing was done by the New York State
Department of Health, Arthropod-Borne Disease Program, in Albany.  This
program is a collaborative effort between the Park and Suffolk County
Department of Health Services, which announced the positive results on
August 31.  The freshwater Culex species of mosquitoes in the pool that
tested positive for WNV is not thought to generate a major human health
concern, although this species does potentially bite people, and several
human cases of WNV have been documented in Nassau and Suffolk counties this year. No WNV-infected dead birds have been found this year in Fire Island National Seashore.

The National Park Service works closely with the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Suffolk County Vector Control, and local Fire Island and Long Island municipalities to determine the best course of action to protect residents, visitors and employees of the Seashore.  When threats to human health (such as the presence of West Nile virus) occur, actions to protect the public may include control methods such as applying larvicide or spraying.

The public will be notified 24 hours in advance of any spray event.

Information on the date and exact location of any spraying can be found on
the Suffolk County web site at or by calling
631-852-4939.  Suffolk County Vector Control is currently authorized to
spray within the Fire Island communities using ultra low volume backpack or
truck-mounted sprayers.

The park is continuing its surveillance program to monitor the severity and
extent of West Nile virus in the Seashore. As per the Park’s standard
operation procedures, there will be an amplified surveillance in the area
where West Nile virus has been detected.

Mosquitoes can transmit both West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine
Encephalitis (EEE) from an infected bird to humans and other animals.
However, mosquitoes are a natural part of a healthy salt marsh ecology. The
larvae and adults provide food for many kinds of wildlife, including other
insects, fish, birds, and bats. Some measures taken to control mosquitoes,
such as spraying insecticides, can adversely affect non-target organisms,
possibly affecting fish and other species living in the wetlands.

Therefore, any actions taken to protect human health through the control of
mosquitoes must be weighed very heavily. Suffolk County Vector Control
reports that the materials and techniques they use are thoroughly reviewed
by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and Suffolk County in order to
minimize adverse impacts on fish and wildlife species or groundwater.

For general information on West Nile virus, contact your local
health department.  Information can also be obtained from the CDC, New York State or Suffolk County WNV web sites, or one of the park visitor centers.

For more information about Fire Island National Seashore’s mosquito
monitoring program, visit the park’s web site:

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