For the first time this year, the Health Department has detected West Nile virus in New York City mosquitoes, the department announced today.
The infected mosquitoes were collected from the Staten Island neighborhood of Eltingville.
This is not the first time West Nile virus has been found in city mosquitoes: the Health Department found the virus in mosquitoes last year, as well.
So far, no human cases have been detected this season. But still, health officials warn New Yorkers to take proper precautions:
“Be sure to wear mosquito repellent when you’re outdoors, and cover your arms and legs if you’re outside at dawn or dusk," said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. "People over 50 should be especially cautious, as they are more likely to develop serious illness if they contract the virus.”
The Health Department has increased mosquito surveillance and mosquito larvae control efforts in the affected area in Staten Island.
Not everyone infected with West Nile virus will become ill. However, the virus can cause neurological diseases such as encephalitis, a serious inflammation of the brain or spinal cord. It can also cause a milder flu-like illness with headache, fever and fatigue, weakness and sometimes rash. If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, see your doctor right away.
Here are some other safety tips on how to reduce mosquito exposure from the Health Department:
1. Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under 3), or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535
2. Make sure windows have screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home, and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
3. Eliminate any standing water from your property since it provides are breeding sites for mosquitoes, and dispose of containers that can collect water.
4. Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
5. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered when not in use, and drain water that collects in pool covers.
6. Standing water is a violation of the New York City Health Code. You can report standing water by calling 311.