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West Nile Mosquitoes Scare Some in White Plains

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- When Jennifer Green, 72, heard the county's health department discovered West Nile-carrying mosquitoes early this August, she was concerned about her family.

"It's kind of scary because it can make people very sick," said Green, a lifelong White Plains resident who says she's immune to mosquitoes. "I've never been bit by a mosquito. Everybody says if I got a bite, I'd know it. And I've seen the bites. The kids get them."

A mosquito batch collected in Hastings by the Westchester County Department of Health tested positive for the West Nile virus, according to an Aug. 4 press release from the department.

In 2010, there were a total of 13 positive mosquito batches found in Westchester County and four cases of West Nile virus in humans. Last year's first positive batch of mosquitoes was reported in early August. The disease is most common in August and early September.

So far, there have been no reported cases of West Nile in humans this year. The health department said it? will continue to monitor and test mosquitoes in the area. It also recommends that residents avoid the outdoors in the late afternoons and early evenings and use insect repellent when outside in the evenings.

Some White Plains residents, including Noel Cambell, 52, said the county should do more to prevent West Nile mosquitoes from reproducing.

"They should be protecting us," Cambell said. "The government should find where the breeding grounds are and prevent them from breeding to stop the population growth."

However, the lack of human West Nile cases wasn't enough to prompt Cambell to wear bug spray.

"Since it's not at an epidemic sate, I wouldn't necessarily wear it," he said.

????????? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offered the following tips for avoiding the West Nile virus:

?• Use mosquito repellant only on exposed skin and/or clothing.

• Use repellants that contain 10 percent or less DEET for children and no more than 30 percent DEET for adults. Don't use repellents with DEET on infants and small children. When using repellant, do not spray toward face or under clothes. Apply with hands away from cuts, eyes and mouth.

• Reducing the number of mosquitoes in your backyard can help decrease the spread of West Nile virus. Cleaning roof gutters or any areas where water collects will help to eliminate their breeding grounds.

If you do become infected with West Nile virus, you might experience minor symptoms, such as low-grade fever and mild headache. Or, you might not experience any symptoms at all. Fewer than 1 percent of the people sickened develop life-threatening illnesses, such as West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis that include inflammation of the brain, the CDC says.

According to the CDC, the mild signs and symptoms of West Nile virus infection (fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue) generally go away on their own, but severe signs and symptoms — severe headache, disorientation, lack of coordination, convulsions, tremors or sudden weakness -- require immediate attention.

?The CDC states relatively few reports of infection in dogs and cats. Check with your veterinarian about how to protect them from mosquitoes.?

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