Mosquitoes with West Nile virus have been detected in New York City for the first time this season, the city’s Health Department announced Wednesday.
The infected Culex mosquitoes were collected in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. No human cases have been reported yet this season, which typically spans from April through September.
Since the West Nile virus was first detected in New York City 20 years ago, there have been 259 cases of infected humans, 38 of whom (15%) died.
West Nile virus infection can cause a mild or moderate febrile illness; 80% of those infected have no symptoms at all. In some people, particularly those 50 and older or who have weakened immune systems, the virus can cause a serious and potentially fatal infection of the brain and spinal cord. The most common symptoms are headache, fever, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. Symptoms of more severe illness can also include changes in mental status and muscle weakness.
The Health Department conducts regular mosquito surveillance, and sprays pesticide and larvicide.
The Department advises that to reduce the risk of exposure to mosquitoes:
- Use an approved insect repellent containing picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under three), or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535.
- Make sure windows have screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
- Eliminate any standing water from your property and dispose of containers that can collect water. Standing water is a violation of the New York City Health Code.
- Make sure roof gutters are clean and drained properly.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty or covered if not in use. Drain water that collects in pool covers.
- For more information about West Nile virus, or to report standing water, visit gov/health/wnv or call 311.