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New York City Seal
Press Release
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Office of Communications
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Greg Butler
Thursday, August 15, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347


The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced today that an 84-year old man from the Rosedale section of Queens has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). The individual became ill with low-grade fever and diarrhea on the night of July 20, was hospitalized on July 27, and subsequently developed encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Subsequent testing indicated the presence of West Nile virus. The patient is currently hospitalized and is in critical condition.

New York City Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH said, "This is the first human case of West Nile virus in New York City this year. It underscores the importance of taking personal precautions against mosquitoes. All New Yorkers, especially those over 50 years of age, should consider wearing long-sleeve clothing between dusk and dawn, ensure that screens around the home are tight-fitting and without holes, and consider the use of a mosquito repellent when outdoors. "

In 1999 there were 45 human cases of WNV in New York City requiring hospitalization (four deaths), in 2000 there were 14 human cases of WNV in New York City (one death), and in 2001 there were seven cases of WNV requiring hospitalization (no deaths).

Most mosquitoes do not carry WNV and most people bitten by a mosquito have not been exposed to the virus. Less than one out of one hundred people who get bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito and become infected will get severely ill. Of the few who become infected, most people will have no symptoms at all or display only mild symptoms according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recommendations to Prevent WNV
Dr. Frieden advised New Yorkers, especially those 50 and over, to take personal precautions against mosquitoes:

  • If outside 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.

New Yorkers are also encouraged 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.

Summary of West Nile Virus Findings to Date
WNV Positive
Mosquito Pools10614441569
Human Cases100010

For more information, call the City's West Nile virus information line 1-877-WNV-4NYC or visit