Translate This Page Print This Page Email a Friend Newsletter Sign-Up
Text Size : Sm Med Lg
Press Releases

New York City Seal
Press Release
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Greg Butler
Wednesday, July 3, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347

FIRST EVIDENCE OF WEST NILE VIRUS DETECTED
IN NEW YORK CITY THIS YEAR


New Yorkers Reminded to Take Precautions Against Mosquitoes, Report Dead Birds to Health Department, and Eliminate Standing Water Around the Home

New York City Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, today announced that the DHMH Public Health Laboratories confirmed evidence of West Nile virus (WNV) in a mosquito pool collected on June 25 in Saw Mill Marsh, Staten Island. While there has been WNV activity reported in other regions of the tri-state area and throughout the U.S. this season, this is the first finding of WNV in New York City in 2002. Even though the virus has not yet been detected in other parts of the City, all New Yorkers are encouraged to take precautions.

Dr. Frieden said, "Now that West Nile virus is a part of our environment, New Yorkers should routinely take precautions against mosquitoes. As New Yorkers prepare for the 4th of July holiday, remember to wear protective clothing, make sure that screens for windows and doors are tight-fitting, and consider using mosquito repellent that contains DEET when outdoors. These basic measures are the simplest and most effective means to prevent getting sick."

Dr. Frieden also encouraged New Yorkers to eliminate standing water around the home where mosquitoes breed as well as to report dead birds - dead bird analysis is a critical component of the DHMH's efforts to track the virus.

To detect WNV in New York City, DHMH has implemented a multifaceted surveillance program, including: monitoring mosquito activity through both larval and adult mosquito surveillance throughout the five boroughs, picking up and testing dead birds reported through the WNV Hotline or DHMH Web site, dead bird analysis, and working closely with the medical and veterinary community to identify potential human or animal cases. To date in New York City, none of 165 dead birds tested for WNV have been positive; only one out of 1,531 mosquito pools has tested positive for WNV.

As part of its on-going mosquito control efforts, DHMH is applying larvicide to over 135,000 catch basins, as well as areas of standing water in parks and other green areas, unused swimming pools, and wastewater treatment plants citywide. To bolster these efforts, last week DHMH aerially applied a natural larvicide in marshy, non-residential and inaccessible areas of Staten Island, including areas in an around the Saw Mill Marsh. Moreover, DHMH will issue Notices of Violation to property owners with areas of standing water, which may act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes carrying WNV. Property owners may be fined between $100 and $2,000 for not eliminating standing water that may be considered detrimental to public health.

To report a dead bird or an area of standing water, New Yorkers should call the City's toll-free WNV Hotline - 1-877-WNV-4NYC (1-877-968-4692) - or visit DHMH's Web site at nyc.gov/health. New Yorkers can also report a dead bird at nyc.gov/html/doh/html/wnv/wnvbird.shtml or a standing water condition at nyc.gov/html/doh/html/wnv/wnvwater.shtml

Recommendations to Prevent WNV

Dr. Frieden advised New Yorkers, especially those 65 and over, to take personal precautions against mosquitoes:

  • If outside during the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks.
  • Consider the use of an insect repellent containing DEET. USE DEET ACCORDING TO MANUFACTURER'S DIRECTIONS. As with chemical exposures in general, pregnant women should take care to avoid exposure to DEET whenever practical.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
  • Eliminate Standing Water.

New Yorkers are also urged to help "Mosquito-Proof New York City" by eliminating areas of standing water around their homes:

  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly.
  • Dispose of cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers.
  • Remove all discarded tires from property.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep pools empty and covered.
  • Drain water from pool covers.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change water in birdbaths every 3 to 4 days.
  • Eliminate any other areas of standing water that collects on your property;
  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.

Report standing water through the West Nile Virus Information Line (1-877-WNV-4NYC) or the City's Web site nyc.gov/html/doh/html/wnv/wnvwater.shtml.

For more information, please call 1-877-WNV-4NYC or visit nyc.gov/html/doh/html/wnv/wnvhome.shtml.

For more information, visit nyc.gov/health.

#41