Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus detected in NYC area

New York — Mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus have been discovered in New York City for the first time this mosquito season, the Health Department announced Wednesday.

Photo of a Culex Mosquito biting skin.

The NYC Health Department found infected Culex mosquitos in various mosquito traps in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. No human cases have been reported.

As the Health Department increases mosquito surveillance, people are reminded to protect themselves from getting bit by wearing insect repellant and covering their arms and legs.

“We also encourage everyone to remove any standing water that may harbor mosquitoes or call 311 for standing water they cannot manage themselves,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

The department will spray pesticide to target mosquitoes if persistent West Nile virus activity is present. The city also plans on killing mosquito larvae before they can bite by applying larvicide in catch basins, marshland, and other areas with standing water.

The West Nile virus was first detected in the city 20 years ago. Human cases have ranged from 3 to 47, annually, particularly during mosquito season, which spans from April through September in New York City.

About 80% of those infected have no symptoms at all. It can cause mild or moderate febrile illness. In some people, particularly those over 50 or those with weakened immune systems, West Nile Virus can cause a serious and potentially fatal infection of the brain and spinal cord.

Common symptoms include are head aches, fevers, muscle aches and extreme fatigue. In more sever cases symptoms include changes in mental status and muscle weakness requiring hospitalization. Anyone showing symptoms of West Nile virus should contact their doctor immediately.

The Health Department also urges residents to remove any standing water that may harbor mosquitoes and to call 311 for standing water they cannot handle themselves.

To further reduce exposure, the Health Department suggests:

  • 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.
  • 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.
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