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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 037-10
Thursday, August 5, 2010

MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Susan Craig/Zoe Tobin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov


Health Department Reports First Human Case of West Nile Viral Disease for 2010 Season

Agency urges New Yorkers, especially those 50 or older, to take precautions against mosquito bites



August 5, 2010 – The Health Department today confirmed the season's first human case of West Nile viral disease in a 61-year-old Bronx man who was hospitalized with meningitis. In response to this case, and the growing number of mosquitoes testing positive for the virus, the Health Department is strongly urging New Yorkers to take steps to prevent infection.

“This first case of West Nile viral disease in New York City provides a vital reminder to protect ourselves against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Wearing mosquito repellent when you are outdoors, and long sleeves and pants in the morning and evening, will reduce your risk of infection. New Yorkers age 50 and older should be especially careful as they are more likely to become seriously ill, and in rare instances die, if infected.”

West Nile virus infections typically begin to occur around this time in the summer. To date, 199 New Yorkers have been diagnosed with West Nile viral disease since it was first found in the United States in 1999, including 3 in 2009 and 15 in 2008.

The Health Department uses an “integrated pest management” approach to monitors the city for West Nile Virus and control its spread by mosquitoes. The agency inspects and treats standing water sites with non-chemical larvicides to kill larval mosquitoes before they emerge as flying adults. When necessary, the agency also applies small amounts of chemical pesticides (adulticides) to kill adult mosquitoes. A schedule of mosquito control activities is available online at nyc.gov/health or by phone from the 311 call center.

Reducing Exposure to Mosquitoes
  • Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under three), or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535.

  • Make sure windows have screens, and 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.

  • Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.

  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.

  • Report standing water by calling 311 or visiting http://www.nyc.gov/health/wnv.
About West Nile virus

West Nile virus infection can cause a mild or moderate flu-like illness, or sometimes no symptoms at all. But in some people, particularly those 50 and older, it can cause a serious and potentially fatal infection of the brain and spinal cord. The most common symptoms are headache, fever, muscle aches and extreme fatigue. Symptoms of more severe illness can also include changes in mental status and muscle weakness. If you think you have symptoms of West Nile Virus, see your doctor right away. For more information about West Nile Virus, and how to avoid it, visit nyc.gov/health or call 311.

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