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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With confirmed cases of West Nile virus around the Tri-State area, health officials are concerned about the large amounts of standing water and flooding left by hurricane-turned-tropical storm Irene.
Irene’s heavy rains and flooding filled water in places where mosquitoes like to breed, especially in low-lying areas.
That’s why health officials want you to protect yourself against mosquitoes that could be infected with West Nile virus.
The New York State Health Department and Office of Emergency Management has some tips to help keep mosquitoes at bay while cleaning up after the storm.
- Avoid being outside at dawn and dusk. That’s when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.
- Try to get rid of standing water around your home if possible.
- Use repellents containing DEET.
- Get rid of breeding sites like old tires and turn over or remove empty plastic containers.
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In New Jersey where there is still major flooding in many communities, officials are working round the clock to keep the mosquito population from growing.
Bob Kent, the administrator for the DEP office of mosquito control says the state is trying to control mosquitoes from the air and on the ground.
“The state’s program has been very active all week. We’re expanding our surveillance a great deal,” said Kent. “We’ve been flying for the last three days, we’re flying today, we’ll be flying tomorrow. I know many of the county districts are doing the same thing. We’re doing our very best to address this problem.”
Kent says residents in flooded communities should be especially weary of mosquitoes and should take precautions to protect themselves.
“Over the counter repellents are generally very effective. If people don’t want to put repellant on their skin there are repellents that are applied to clothing,” said Kent. “I understand there are a lot of people without electricity so maybe air conditioning systems aren’t working so when the windows are open, make sure the screens are working well to prevent adult mosquitoes from entering their homes.”
Experts say mosquito populations tend to jump after severe storms, like in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Are you seeing more mosquitoes in your neighborhood since Irene? Let us know below in our comments section…