New Yorkers Should Protect Themselves Against West Nile

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Health Department reported that a growing number of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus since mid-June – prompting a reminder to New Yorkers to take steps to avoid contracting the illness. Through routine surveillance in all five boroughs, mosquitoes with the virus have been found in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx, with the most positive tests in Queens and Staten Island. While there have been no human cases of West Nile virus yet this season, infections normally occur in late summer. Eighteen New Yorkers contracted West Nile last year – with the first cases occurring in August.

“Reduce your risk of getting West Nile virus,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. “Wear mosquito repellent whenever you are outdoors and long sleeves and pants in the morning and evening. New Yorkers over 50 years old need to be especially careful because they are most likely to suffer serious illness or death if they contract the virus.”

Take Simple Steps to Avoid Mosquitoes

* Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not recommended for children under 3), or IR3535.

* Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts, particularly at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.


* Make sure windows have screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

* Eliminate any standing water from your property, and dispose of containers that can collect water. Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly. Standing water is a violation of the health code.

* 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.

West Nile virus infection can cause a mild or moderate flu-like illness, or sometimes no symptoms at all. But in some cases, particularly among people 50 years of age and older, it can cause serious infection in the brain and spinal cord that can be fatal. The most common symptoms are headache, fever and extreme fatigue. If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, see your doctor right away.

Controlling Mosquitoes

The Health Department monitors for West Nile Virus and applies pesticides as needed throughout the summer. The Department has been conducting routine preventive mosquito control (larviciding) in parts of Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx, using a naturally-occurring and environmentally-friendly product to prevent immature mosquitoes from growing into adults. In addition, the Health Department has sprayed pesticide in recent weeks to reduce adult mosquito activity in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.