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Long Island On Alert After High Number Of Mosquitoes Test Positive For West Nile Virus

Parks across Long Island have been closed because of mosquitoes testing positive for the West Nile Virus. (Credit: CBS 2)

Parks across Long Island have been closed because of mosquitoes testing positive for the West Nile Virus. (Credit: CBS 2)

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STONY BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Long Island is on alert after reports that historically high numbers of mosquitoes are testing positive for the dangerous and deadly West Nile Virus.

Families are on guard, and parks across Long Island are closing or restricting evening hours due to infected mosquitoes.

The Bodie family of Melville has a solution.

“We just put in a bat house to attract bats,” the mother told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.

“Bats eat mosquitoes!” the son added.

People become infected with the deadly West Nile Virus through the bite of an infected mosquito. One victim was just hospitalized for four days. He fortunately recovered, but this summer Long Island is on alert. Even numbers of dead birds with the virus are up.

“We are moving towards the highest year of activity at this point,” Dr. Scott Campbell of the Suffolk County Department of Health said.

Campbell said that Suffolk County has an historically high number of mosquito pools testing positive — 77 so far this year. Last year at this time there were just three, and the year before that 19, when three people died.

“My whole life has changed because of a mosquito,” Barbara Cody said.

Cody’s husband, George, never recovered from the West Nile Virus. There is no known treatment or medical cure. Hoping to save lives, aerial and ground spraying has resumed in the area using scourge, a synthetic insecticide classified as nontoxic to slightly toxic.

“I’m OK with it as long as there’s a little more notice about it,” one local parent said.

“I’m anti-pesticide,” another parent disagreed. “I don’t agree with it.”

But some families welcome any kind of spraying.

“I have been bitten quite a few times,” one woman explained. Another added that “there are so many mosquitoes.”

Dr. Susan Donelan of Stony Brook said that symptoms include trouble breathing and disorientation.

“(Symptoms also include) severe headaches, fevers, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches,” Donelan said.

Doctors advise to avoid going outside from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. They also encourage people to wear long sleeves, empty standing water and use approved bug spray.

Experts said that they cannot predict if numbers will continue to be high. There are many factors — such as weather — that affect the mosquito population on Long Island.

Long Island residents, how do you plan to protect yourselves from the West Nile Virus? Let us know in the comments section below…