west nile virus
West Nile virus has been identified in more New York counties. Photo: iStock

West Nile virus has been confirmed outside of New York City in Nassau, Westchester and Monroe Counties, according to state health department officials.

 

Officials are urging residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites after a combined total of seven human cases of West Nile virus have been identified in New York so far in 2018.

 

The state health department confirmed the presence of the mosquito-transmitted disease in Westchester County, Nassau County and Monroe County on Thursday. 

 

“At the Governor Cuomo’s direction, the Department of Health launched an aggressive mosquito-borne disease plan earlier this summer, and we continue to work with our local partners to reduce public health risks,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in a statement  “The most important thing New Yorkers can do is take the appropriate precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from mosquito bites.”

 

West Nile virus in New York

New York City health officials confirmed the city’s first case of West Nile virus this summer back in early July, marking the earliest identification of the viral infection here since 1999.

 

On Aug. 17, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken announced that 29 new mosquito samples recently tested positive for the virus on Long Island. So far this year, Suffolk County has confirmed 71 mosquito samples and three birds tested positive for West Nile virus, but no human cases in the area.

west nile virus nyc

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples or birds indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” Tomarken said in a statement. “While there is no cause for alarm, we advise residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”

On Aug. 16, New York City health officials also announced that more mosquitos were testing positive for the virus within the five boroughs. Most human cases typically occur between late July and October.

Since West Nile virus arrived in New York City in 1999, according to the NYC health department, over one-third of New York City patients with severe illness were admitted to the intensive care unit and 14 percent have died.

“Wet, hot weather has increased mosquito activity in New York City, but protecting yourself is as simple as wearing repellent and protective clothing and removing or reporting standing water that may harbor mosquitos” said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a statement. “New York City has one of the most comprehensive mosquito control programs in the nation. From the beginning of June, we have been aggressively larviciding and spraying pesticide to control the mosquito population. In response to the increased mosquito activity, we are enhancing outreach and mosquito control.”

With the announcement of West Nile virus identified in more New York counties, state officials are urging residents to cover their skin, use insect repellent and eliminate standing water in their yard. Visit here for more information.