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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, September 12, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347


First Human Cases of WNV Reported in Staten Island and Brooklyn

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced today that five City residents have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). In New York City, there have now been 14 cases of WNV, including a previously announced fatality. 10 of the 14 WNV cases have occurred in persons over the age of 65. Nationally, there have been over 1,200 cases of WNV and 43 deaths according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cases being announced today include: a 22-year-old Graniteville, Staten Island man hospitalized on September 6 with aseptic meningitis and discharged; a 78-year-old Flatlands, Brooklyn man hospitalized on September 4 with encephalitis and discharged; a 40-year-old South Bronx man hospitalized on September 7 with aseptic meningitis and discharged; a 72-year-old Floral Park, Queens man hospitalized with aseptic meningitis on September 2 and discharged; and a 79-year-old Bayside, Queens woman admitted to the hospital with aseptic meningitis on September 5, and remains there in stable condition. No known New York City cases have been acquired through blood transfusions or organ transplants. Increased surveillance will take place over the weekend to determine if spraying will be necessary.

DOHMH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said, "While the weather may be getting cooler, we are still in the midst of the West Nile virus season. The announcement of five additional human cases of WNV underscores the importance for all New Yorkers - especially those over the age of 50 - to continue taking precautions against mosquitoes, which include wearing long-sleeve clothing between dusk and dawn, ensuring that screens are tight-fitting and not torn, and consider using a mosquito repellant when outdoors."

Hospitalization Status of City WNV Patients
Hospitalization Status
86-year-old woman - Beechhurst, QueensDischarged
85-year-old woman - Richmond Hill, QueensHospitalized
84-year-old man - Rosedale, QueensHospitalized
79-year-old woman - Bayside, QueensHospitalized
75-year-old woman - Bayside, QueensHospitalized
73-year-old man - Jackson Heights, QueensDeceased
72-year-old man - Floral Park, QueensDischarged
34-year-old woman - Howard Beach, QueensDischarged
71-year-old woman - Schuylerville, BronxDischarged
71-year-old man - Spencer Estates area, BronxHospitalized
40-year-old man - South Bronx, BronxDischarged
27-year-old woman - East Tremont, BronxDischarged
78-year-old man - Flatlands, BrooklynDischarged
22-year-old man - Graniteville, Staten IslandDischarged

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 three 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 one 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.

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 on personal precautions against mosquitoes or how to eliminate standing water, visit or call the City's WNV toll free Information Line at 1-877-WNV-4NYC.