New York City has reported its first confirmed cases of West Nile virus for the 2020 season, including one death, the Health Department announced Thursday.
Six New Yorkers have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne infection: two from Queens, two from Manhattan, one from Staten Island and one from Brooklyn. One Manhattan resident is believed to have been infected while outside New York. All six were hospitalized; one died and the other five have been discharged. The decedent was over 65 years old; age is a risk factor for severe West Nile virus outcomes.
This is the first death from the West Nile virus in New York City since 2018.
People in New York City have been diagnosed with the West Nile virus every year since 1999, with most identified between late July and October. The number of human cases has ranged from three to 47 annually. Ten New Yorkers were diagnosed with West Nile virus during the 2019 season. Of the 434 New Yorkers diagnosed with West Nile virus since 1999, 47 (11%) died.
This summer, the Health Department has conducted 11 adulticiding spray operations and two aerial larvicide treatments to reduce the risk of West Nile virus. Additional mosquito treatments are planned.
In individuals over 50 or with a weakened immune system, West Nile virus can cause severe illness, including meningitis and encephalitis, sometimes resulting in permanent or long-term complications such as muscle weakness, fatigue, confusion and depression. Others may experience milder symptoms, which include headache, fever, fatigue, and rash. New Yorkers can learn more about West Nile virus and how to protect themselves from mosquito bites at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/mosquitoes.page
Here are tips for reducing exposure to mosquitoes:
- Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under 3 years of age), 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. You can report standing water by calling 311.
- Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining 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.