EAST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Thanks to mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus, for the time being there will be no more overnight camping at a county park on Long Island.
There were few visitors at Blydenburgh County Park on Friday, but the news of the discovery inside the pond-filled park alarmed some frequent visitors, TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported.
“I think that’s pretty crazy. Me and my friend come here all the time, and it’s kind of scary,” said Heather Fazio of Hauppauge.
Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said recent test samples confirmed the virus in mosquitoes.
“We found some West Nile mosquitoes where it indicates there is virus in the area, so we’ve made the recommendation that the park will be closed after 8 at night, so people can’t camp overnight,” Dr. Tomarken said.
The overnight hours are when mosquitoes are most active and mostly likely to bite you, Rose reported. Camps began emptying late Friday, but locals said the discovery of West Nile is nothing new. It has shown up nearly every year in the park, even killing birds.
“It’s concerning, needless to say. I mean even last year you would see many birds, starlings and crows, so something should be done. I don’t know if they’re spraying,” said Tina Mougias of Bethpage.
Health officials said the county has not yet decided if it should spray pesticides, but is suggesting visitors cover up.
“We would recommend that people wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants and tuck their pants into their socks,” Dr. Tomarken said.
The county is also warning folks to stay away from stagnant water, or any containers where water could attract mosquitoes infected with the potentially deadly virus. Officials said they will monitor the park weekly to see if any of the camping season can be salvaged.
So far, the Suffolk County Health Department said it has detected West Nile virus in mosquitoes and birds in a half dozen county parks, but no humans have been infected, Rose reported.