Mosquitoes in Erie County Test Positive for West Nile Virus


 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

 Date August 14, 2014                           

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

Mosquitoes in Erie County Test Positive for West Nile Virus

Residents Reminded to Eliminate Standing Water Where Mosquitoes Breed

ERIE COUNTY, NY—Recently, the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center's Arbovirus Laboratory reported that mosquito pools in Erie County tested positive for West Nile Virus (“WNV”).

“I want to remind residents to minimize exposure to mosquitoes by limiting outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity, such as dusk and dawn. When going outdoors, it is important to cover as much as skin as possible with clothing and to use an effective repellant that contains 25-30% DEET on exposed skin. Through our joint prevention efforts, we can halt the spread of West Nile Virus in Erie County” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.  

WNV is a mosquito-borne illness that is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, the majority of individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people will develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurological illness.

Burstein continued: “Mosquitoes are a summertime nuisance, but by taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of being bitten and possibly contracting a mosquito-borne disease like WNV.  

Follow these recommendations to keep yourself and your family healthy:

  • Eliminate Local Mosquito Breeding Sites. Mosquitoes develop in standing water.
    • Do not leave standing water for longer than 2 days before dumping it out
    • Change the water in birdbaths and planter bases every 2 days
    • Clean clogged gutters to allow rainfall to drain freely
  • Reduce Exposure to Mosquitoes. Avoid mosquito bites by limiting outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity, such as dusk and dawn.
  • Mosquito traps, electrocutors (bug zappers), ultrasonic repellers, and other devices marketed to prevent mosquitoes from biting people are not effective and should not be relied on to reduce mosquito bites (so save your money!).
  • Use Barriers to Protect Skin. (mosquito nets/screens for baby strollers/playpens, long sleeves/pants, socks/shoes, hats)
  • Discourage Mosquitoes from Biting. Mosquitoes are attracted to people by odors on the skin and by carbon dioxide from the breath.
  • Use an Effective Repellantduring outdoor activities
    • Most effective repellants contain 25-30% DEET
      • Products with lower concentrations of DEET will need to be reapplied more often
      • Do not use on cuts, irritated or infected skin
      • Spray on skin & then rub it in
      • Do not spray on face; spray on hands then rub it on your face
      • Reapply after sweating or getting wet

In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) concluded that appropriate use of DEET at concentrations of up to 30% posed no significant risk to children or adults but that DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age because of increased skin permeability.

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For more information:

Erie County Department of Health –

New York State Department of Health --

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention --

American Academy of Pediatrics --


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