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Environmental Health

August 8, 2018


For further information please contact: Kevin D. Watkins, MD, MPH 716-701-3398






Protect Yourself Against Mosquito-Borne West Nile Virus Disease

General Awareness for Cattaraugus County Residents


Olean, N.Y.-The Cattaraugus County Health Department is urging residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and protect themselves from potential exposure to the mosquito-borne illness West Nile Virus (WNV) that has been present throughout NYS since 2000. West Nile Virus is a viral disease that is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. The Health Department conducted mosquito surveillance during the summer months and one of the mosquito pools collected during the last week of July tested positive for West Nile Virus in the Kill Buck area of the county.

Residents of Cattaraugus County are urged to follow these precautions to defend against mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellent properly. Those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon   eucalyptus are most effective but should be used with care. Read the product label and use according to package instructions.  
  • Limit outdoor activities in areas where mosquitoes are most active and between dusk and dawn which is the peak mosquito biting time.
  • If you have to be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks as weather permits.
  • Repair or replace all window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Reduce or eliminate all standing water.
  • Empty or dispose of pails, cans, flower pots, or similar water-holding containers.
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
  • Clear roof gutters, remove leaf debris from yards and gardens, and clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs and drain pool covers.
  • Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.
  • Remove all tires from your property.


"Since WNV positive mosquitoes have been found in Erie and Cattaraugus counties this year, we urge residents to follow guidelines provided to decrease the number of mosquitoes around their home and neighborhood, Dr. Watkins, Public Health Director, stated." No human cases of WNV have been reported in WNY this year and we would like to keep it that way.

The risk of contracting either the WNV virus runs from June through September with peak activity late July to August. In 2017, New York State (NYS) reported 44 human cases of WNV disease with no fatalities.

West Nile virus (WNV) disease

West Nile virus (WNV) disease usually develops within 3 to 14 days after exposure; however, it may take up to three weeks for signs to appear in those with weakened immune systems. Many people who contract WNV do not experience any type of illness; an estimated 20 percent of people who become infected will develop mild symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and possibly a skin rash or swollen lymph glands. The person's health usually improves after several days, but they may feel tired, weak and generally unwell for weeks. Less than 1 percent of people infected will develop severe symptoms that affect the central nervous system. These include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma, or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Most people will recover completely from WNV, even from a severe infection although in rare cases, death can occur. 


There are nocommercially available human vaccines or specific antiviral treatments for WNV. The best way to protect yourself is to keep mosquitoes from biting you. WNV vaccines are available for horses in consultation with a veterinarian.


For more information about personal protection measures against mosquitoes, go to  or contact the Cattaraugus County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health at 716-701-3391.

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