Amherst mosquitoes test positive for West Nile

Posted at 9:33 AM, Aug 21, 2017

Mosquitoes in Amherst have tested positive for West Nile Virus.  The Erie County Department of Health confirmed Monday that a mosquito pool tested in the town had positive results.

Amherst Town residents are being reminded to get rid of standing water where mosquitoes might breed.  Health Department officials are also recomending residents do what they can to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

"We have not had a confirmed case of West Nile Virus in Erie County since October 2012 and we want to ensure it stays that way," said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. "I want to remind residents how to minimize exposure to mosquitoes: limit outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity (dusk and dawn), cover as much as skin as possible with clothing when going outdoors and use an effective insect repellant that contains 25-30% DEET on exposed skin. These same precautionary measures will also help protect people from other insect-borne diseases."

West Nile Virus is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito.  There are no medications to treat it nor any vaccines to prevent it, but the health department says most infected people will have no symptoms.  About one in five people will develop a fever with other symptoms, and the disease can become dangerous or even fatal in about 1% of infected people.

The Town of Amherst routinely conducts mosquito surveillance in the summer months, and the results came from routine testing. 

Here are some recommendations on staying safe from the Erie County Department of Health:

Recommendations to Stay Healthy:
·         Eliminate local mosquito breeding sites--mosquitoes develop in standing water
o   Do not leave standing water for longer than two days before dumping it out
o   Change water in birdbaths and planter bases every two days
o   Clean clogged gutters to allow rainfall to drain freely
·         Reduce exposure to mosquitoes--avoid mosquito bites by limiting outdoor activities during the times of high mosquito activity at dusk and dawn.
·         Mosquito traps, electrocutors (bug zappers), ultrasonic repellers, and similar devices purported to prevent mosquitoes from biting people are not effective. Do not rely on them to reduce mosquito bites and do not waste money on them
·         Use barriers to protect skin, like mosquito nets/screens for baby strollers/playpens, long sleeves/pants, socks/shoes, and hats
·         Discourage mosquitoes from biting. Mosquitoes are attracted to people by odors on the skin so avoid wearing scented lotions or cologne/perfume.
·         Mosquitoes are also attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled from the breath, but we do not recommend you stop breathing
·         Use an effective repellant with a concentration of 25 to 30% DEET during outdoor activities.
§  Spray on skin & then rub it in
§  Do not spray on face--spray on your hands and then rub it on your face
§  Reapply repellant after sweating or getting wet
§  Products with lower concentrations of DEET need to be reapplied more often
§  Do not use on cuts, irritated, or infected skin