This is the second sample of WNV-infected mosquitoes found on Fire Island during the past month. A sample collected from a trap at Watch Hill on August 20 was also found to be positive. According to New York State Department of Health, as of September 13, 2010, 14 human cases of WNV have been documented in Suffolk County, and 37 human cases of WNV, including 2 fatalities, have been documented in Nassau County. 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 www.suffolkcountyny.gov/health 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. A ground spraying treatment is scheduled for September 16 from 6:00 p.m. 10:30 p.m. along all walks in the community of Fire Island Pines. At this time, no spraying has been authorized for the Carrington Tract, and the area has not been closed to the public.
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. When certain conditions exist, the spraying for adult mosquitoes on federal land, the application of larvicide to mosquito breeding grounds, and/or the closure of park areas is prescribed. These actions are triggered by the detection of more than one pool of infected mosquitoes (a pool is defined as a sample of up to 50 mosquitoes, for one given trap), by detection of disease in both mosquitoes and birds, or in increasing numbers of infected birds. These actions will be implemented after consultation with appropriate agencies.
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, please 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: http://www.nps.gov/fiis. If you need further information or have questions for the park, please contact our headquarters at 631-687-4750.