State Health Department Provides Insect Repellent for Distribution in Counties at Risk from West Nile-Like Virus
Albany, October 1 – New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia C. Novello announced today that the State is providing 500,000 units of insect repellent containing DEET, free of charge, to help protect New Yorkers from mosquitoes infected with the West Nile–like virus, the cause of the encephalitis outbreak in the New York City area.
Supplies of Cutter insect repellent for adults and children will be delivered first to Westchester and Suffolk counties. Putnam, Orange, Rockland, Ulster, Sullivan and Dutchess counties will receive their DEET supplies over the weekend and on Monday. Officials from the individual counties are making arrangements to distribute the insect repellent to their residents.
Use of an insect repellent containing DEET is recommended if individuals will be spending time outdoors in likely mosquito habitats. Individuals should minimize outdoor activities during times when mosquitoes are most active. The West Nile virus is transmitted by Culex pipiens and Anopheles mosquitoes which are active mainly from dusk to dawn. The virus is also carried by the Aedes vexans mosquito. Aedes vexans is active during the day as well as night, but generally will not bite during the day outside of wooded or brushy areas.
The use of DEET alone is not enough to eliminate risk of mosquito bites. State Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia C. Novello stresses that people who live in counties which have had cases of West Nile–like virus diagnosed, or in areas which have experienced unusual numbers of crow deaths to continue to take precautions, such as wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts. Also, eliminate items on your premises where standing water can collect and serve as a mosquito breeding ground.
To date, 48 laboratory positive cases of West Nile–like virus have been identified in New York State. Of those cases, 12 were identified outside NYC: eight cases in Westchester County and four cases in Nassau county.
Deet Tips: Protecting Yourself With Deet,
And Protecting Yourself From Deet
The chemical N,N–diethyl–m–toluamide –– more commonly known as DEET –– is an insect repellent that can prevent mosquito bites but must be used with caution. The New York State Department of Health recommends taking these precautions when using repellents containing DEET:
- Store bottle out of the reach of children and read all instructions on label before applying.
- Do not let children apply DEET themselves because they may put them in their mouths or touch their eyes.
- Avoid prolonged and excessive use of DEET. Use sparingly to cover exposed skin; do not treat unexposed skin.
- Do not apply repellents in enclosed areas. This is especially important when using sprays or aerosols.
- Do not apply directly on face.
- DEET can be applied to clothing, but may damage some synthetic fabrics and plastics.
- Wash treated skin and clothing after returning indoors.
- If you believe you are having an adverse reaction to a repellent containing DEET, wash the treated area immediately and call your physician.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Health Department, Department of Environmental Conservation and the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) are continuing their investigation and monitoring of this outbreak to ensure that those counties that are at greatest risk receive immediate assistance. The State Health Department's 24 hour hotline at 1–800–458–1158 will address questions from the public on the outbreak as well as provide information on spraying schedules, bird collection recommendations and precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
CDC is investigating whether the West Nile–like virus is the cause of bird deaths that have been reported in many counties. Individuals who find dead birds should not touch them with their bare hands. Wear gloves; double–bag the birds and call your county health department and/or call the State's hotline.
Anyone with questions about mosquito–borne encephalitis should contact the State's hotline or their county health department.10/1/99–137 OPA