NYC’s 1st human case this year of West Nile Virus sends man to hospital

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NEW YORK — The season’s first human case of West Nile virus in New York City was confirmed Friday by the city’s dealth department.

A Manhattan resident who is older than 50 was infected with mosquito-borne virus and hospitalized earlier this month with encephalitis, health officials said. He has since been discharged.

Typically, the virus is active between late July and October. This case marks the earliest diagnosis of West Nile virus reported in New York City since 1999, according to the NYC Health Department.

For individuals over the age of 50 or those with weakened immune systems, West Nile Virus can cause severe illness such as meningitis and encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

These illnesses can result in permanent or long-term complications such as muscle weakness, fatigue, confusion and depression, the NYC Health Department said.

Other patients infected with the virus may experience milder symptoms such as headache, fever and rash.

“The findings from our mosquito surveillance and the early West Nile virus case serve as vital reminders that mosquito season is here and that all New Yorkers should take precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said.

Nearly 500 human cases of West Nile virus have been reported statewide since 2000. Of those, 37 people died.

The city health department advises to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and their bites by:

  • Using an approved insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus (not for children under 3), IR3535 or 2-undecanone.
  • Making sure windows have screens and repairing or replacing screens that have tears or holes.
  • Eliminating any standing water from your property and disposing of containers that can collect water. Standing water is a violation of the NYC Health Code.
  • Making sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
  • Cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and keeping them empty or covered if not in use, and draining water that collects in pool covers.
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