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New York City Seal
Press Release
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Office of Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Greg Butler
Saturday, September 7, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347

TWO NEW YORKERS HOSPITALIZED WITH SERIOUS WEST NILE VIRUS INFECTION

Reminder: Spraying Scheduled for the Bronx in Areas South of Westchester Ave.
Tomorrow, Sunday, September 8, Between 8:00 P.M. and 2:00 A.M

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced today that two Queens' residents have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV): a 75-year-old Bayside woman hospitalized on August 31 with encephalitis, and a 34-year-old Howard Beach woman who was hospitalized on September 2 with encephalitis and aseptic meningitis. Symptoms experienced by these individuals included fever, muscle weakness, altered mental status, headache, dizziness, and blurred vision. Both women are hospitalized and in stable condition. No known cases of WNV in New York City have been acquired through blood transfusions or organ transplants.

There have now been 8 cases of WNV in New York City, including a previously announced fatality, a 73-year-old man from Jackson Heights, Queens. Four remain in the hospital, and three have been released from the hospital. In addition to the two hospitalized individuals announced today, the two other individuals in the hospital include an 84-year-old man from Rosedale, Queens who remains in critical condition and an 85-year-old woman from Richmond Hill, Queens who is in stable condition. The three individuals who have been released from the hospital include a 27-year-old woman from East Tremont in the Bronx, an 86-year-old woman from Beechhurst, Queens, and a 71-year-old woman from Schuylerville in the Bronx.

DOHMH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said, "Historically, the final weeks of summer are when we see the most intense WNV activity in New York City. Indeed, this season's WNV threat is not over until the first frost this fall. All New Yorkers, especially those over the age of 50 who are susceptible to more serious illness, should take prudent measures to protect themselves from mosquitoes. During times of greatest mosquito activity - typically from dusk until dawn - wear long sleeves, ensure screens around the home are tight fitting and not torn, and consider the use of insect repellent when outdoors."

Dr. Frieden reminded New Yorkers to eliminate standing water around the home, and to call the WNV information line - 1-877-WNV-4NYC (1-877-968-4692) to report dead birds and standing water.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus
West Nile virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Most people who become infected with WNV do not experience symptoms or become ill. In some individuals, particularly the elderly, West Nile encephalitis can be a serious disease and is potentially fatal. Symptoms generally occur 3 to 14 days following the bite of an infected mosquito. Less than 1% of mosquitoes carry West Nile virus and most bites from infected mosquitoes probably do not result in infection. Approximately one in five exposed persons develop a flu-like illness and fewer than 1 in a hundred people become seriously ill. Therefore, people bitten by mosquitoes do not need to be tested for WNV but any individual who develops symptoms such as high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, severe headaches, or stiff neck should see a doctor immediately.

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

Spray Schedule for the Bronx South of Westchester Ave.
As announced yesterday, ground-based spraying has been scheduled for the Bronx - in residential and non-residential areas south of Westchester Avenue - in response to persistent findings of West Nile virus (WNV) positive mosquitoes in the area. Heightened mosquito surveillance also identified the presence of human biting mosquitoes in the area. Weather permitting, targeted ground-based spraying by DOHMH is scheduled for overnight, Sunday, September 8 between the hours of 8:00 P.M. and 2:00 A.M. the following morning in residential and non-residential areas of the following neighborhoods:

Hunts Point, Bronx River, Clason Point, Castle Hill, Schuylerville, Edgewater Park, and Throgs Neck in areas south of (from west to east): the Bruckner Expressway, to Westchester Avenue, to Middletown Road, to Jarvis Avenue, to Country Club Road.

The following non-residential areas are also scheduled for spraying: Ferry Point Park, Soundview Park, and St. Raymond's Cemetery.

In the event of high winds or rain, spraying will take place Monday morning, September 9, between the hours of 4:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. For up-to-date spray schedules, New Yorkers can call 1-877-WNV-4NYC or listen to WCBS radio (880AM) at 6:19 A.M. and 6:19 P.M. Spray schedules are announced on the day prior to and the day of spraying activities.

Recommendations to Prevent WNV

DOHMH advises 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 and 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.

For more information, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/wnv/wnvhome.html or call the City's WNV information line at 1-877-WNV-4NYC.

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