PLATTSBURGH — Mosquitoes in Clinton County have tested positive for West Nile virus.

No human cases of the disease, which is spread by mosquito bites, have been diagnosed in the county this year, according to the Clinton County Health Department.

But West Nile can be a severe illness, with symptoms that can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, disorientation, convulsions and coma. 

About one in every 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop a more extreme case of the disease, the Health Department said. 

“Based on the very wet spring and summer months this year, it was anticipated that increased numbers of mosquitoes would be evident throughout the county,” Director of Public Health Jerie Reid said in a press release. 

“Since mosquitoes can carry disease such as West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis virus (known as EEEV), we want to continually remind the public to take steps to prevent bites.”

3 LOCATIONS

The mosquitoes found to carry West Nile were trapped and tested through a contract that includes the Health Department, New York state and the SUNY Plattsburgh Environmental Science Department. 

The insects are collected at seven locations in Clinton County, identified and tested for specific viruses that are mosquito-borne.

The State Department of Health's Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany recently reported the positive presence of West Nile virus in mosquitoes that had been collected in the first two weeks of August from three traps — one located adjacent to the North Country Chamber of Commerce building at 7061 Route 9 in Plattsburgh, along River Road in Morrisonville and along Recore Road in the Town of Chazy. 

No mosquito samples in June and July tested positive for West Nile, the Health Department said.

FROM BIRDS TO BUGS

The 2003 mosquito surveillance testing season was the only one to yield positive results in years that included 2001 through 2011 and 2016, the press release said.

And that was from just one mosquito pool among those sampled in Clinton County.

West Nile virus is spread from birds to mosquitoes. 

It is estimated that 20 percent of those who develop the illness will have mild symptoms, among them fever, headache and body aches, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. 

For many, the symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed or undetected, the release said.  

But anyone who develops the more severe symptoms, the Health Department said, should "seek medical attention immediately."

Mosquito bites also transmit eastern equine encephalitis to people, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

But, it says that virus is very rare in humans, with only a few cases reported nationwide each year.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS

The Health Department strongly recommends these protections against mosquito bites:

• Cover exposed skin by wearing light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants.

• Use a mosquito repellent when it is necessary to be outdoors at times when mosquitoes are most active; make sure to follow the instructions on the label.

• Use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET. Consider using clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) that are treated with permethrin (an insecticide). You can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own.

• Plan outdoor activities for earlier in the day since most mosquito species are more active at dusk and night.

• Reduce the mosquito populations around your home and property by reducing or eliminating standing water. Drain wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use, remove leaf debris from gutters, used tires, flower pots or similar water-holding containers.

• Make sure all doors, windows, screens and other openings to your home are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from getting indoors during the day and while you sleep.

• Use mosquito netting over children’s strollers and infant carriers.

Learn more at the Centers from Disease Control's website: www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report