YAPHANK, Suffolk County (WABC) -- The July 4th weekend is a beautiful time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, but let's face it, there's beauty and the beasts...mosquitoes.
With the recent news of malaria contracted in the south here in the United States, public health officials tell us it would be rare here, but not impossible.
"Suffolk County did have two cases that were locally acquired back in 1999, so since '99, we haven't had anything like that," said Commissioner Gregson Pigott, Suffolk County Health Department.
Eyewitness News took a look inside a place few have seen, except for entomologists, Suffolk County's Arthropod-borne Disease Lab in Yaphank.
It's where bugs are collected from 45 different sites in the county every week.
Then, mosquitoes are sorted out and sent off to Albany for testing, primarily for diseases endemic to our area; Eastern Equine Encephylitis, which has not been seen recently in humans and West Nile Virus, which certainly has in Suffolk County 11 people were diagnosed with it last summer.
The likely culprits were a couple of hundred mosquitos, but as for malaria...
"The human cases would probably turn up first, and then we'd start looking for the malarial protozoan, the germ that causes it in the mosquitoes," Dr. Scott Campbell, Arthropod-borne Diseases Lab Chief.
Doctors told Eyewitness News they are already on alert for other tick-borne illnesses.
"And the same test that we would do for one of those illnesses called Babesia, would also show us, if somebody possibly had malaria," said Dr. Sorana Segal-Maurer, New York Presbyterian Queens.
The bottom line is you should take common sense precautions, especially near standing water.
First of all, stay out of these areas during both dusk and dawn. Look for an EPA-approved bug repellent, and third, dress to protect.
The good news? This species called "anopheles," known to transmit, malaria, is relatively uncommon in the New York-area and under careful watch as this pest season begins.
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