Health officials find crow carcass with West Nile virus

HUDSON — The Columbia Department of Health has received word from the state Department of Health late last week that a crow found in “the Valatie area” has tested positive for West Nile virus. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Columbia County, but the County health department has issued an advisory on how people can protect themselves and their families from the virus.

The mosquito season typically runs from June 1 to November 1 depending on the timing of frosts and cold weather. Many mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus lay their eggs in stagnant water around the home. “Any standing water around the yard can provide a home for mosquitoes to breed. Mosquitoes can then enter houses through broken screens or unscreened windows or doors , because West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes, protecting yourself against mosquito bites is the best way to avoid the transmission of the disease.” Ed Coons, the county public health sanitarian, said in the release announcing the discovery here.

Following the recent heavy rains, mosquitoes have found plentiful breeding sites. The insects can breed in any stagnant water that lasts more than four days. To reduce the mosquito population around, the health department advises residents to take the following steps to reduce or eliminate standing water:

•Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers

•Drill drain holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors

•Make sure that roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall

•Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use

•Change the water in bird baths twice a week

•Dispose of used tires. Call your local landfill or public works department to find out how to dispose of them properly

•Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds

•Clean and properly chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs

•Drain water from pool covers

•Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property

•Make sure windows and doors have screens in good condition/

Mr. Coons advised taking these steps to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, but he said it is not necessary to limit outdoor activities, noting that most mosquitoes do not transmit disease.

To avoid mosquito bites:

•Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active

•Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when you are outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active

•Consider using mosquito repellent when outdoors. Follow label directions carefully.

Officials expected the colder overnight temperatures over the weekend would reduce the mosquito activity. And heavy frost typically reduces the mosquito population very quickly later in the season.

For more information or to report dead birds, particularly crows, call the Columbia County Health Department at 518 828-3358 during regular business hours Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on West Nile virus visit the New York State Department of Health website www.health.state.ny.us.

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