Seasons’s first human case of West Nile virus confirmed

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The city Health Department has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus of the 2017 season.

“The patient is less than 50 years old with underlying medical conditions and is in serious condition at a Manhattan hospital,” the agency reported.

In mid-June, the season’s first West Nile-infected mosquitoes were found on Staten Island.

The city Health Department detected the infected Culex pipiens mosquitoes in Rossville.

No human cases have been reported on Staten Island but health officials warn that the prevalence of the diseased bugs could “indicate a greater risk of infection and may result in a larger number of human cases relative to other years.”   

“The number of mosquito pools testing positive for West Nile virus has reached a record high at this point in the season — 337 mosquito ‘pools,’ or a collection of mosquitoes captured in a surveillance trap, have tested positive this season,” the agency stated. 

“Human cases of West Nile virus occur each year in New York City, and most cases are identified between late July and October,” the Health Department reported, adding that, “The majority of the positive samples have been detected on Staten Island; however, mosquitoes with West Nile virus have been found in every borough.”

So far this season, the Health Department has completed seven rounds of pesticide spraying and two aerial larvicide treatments to reduce the risk of the virus. 

Additional mosquito treatments are planned for the remainder of the season.

“To educate neighborhoods about West Nile virus, the Department has enhanced outreach to at-risk communities – particularly in senior centers and other venues – in Staten Island and Brooklyn,” the agency reported.

“The findings from our mosquito surveillance are concerning and serve as a reminder for all New Yorkers that they can take simple precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites: wear mosquito repellent, cover your arms and legs when you are outdoors, get rid of standing water, and install window screens,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We will not be able to completely eradicate West Nile virus from the mosquito population, but we can reduce human transmission and save lives.”   

The West Nile virus was first detected in New York City 18 years ago.

WHAT IS WEST NILE VIRUS?

“West Nile virus infection can cause a mild or moderate flu-like illness, or sometimes no symptoms at all. In some people, particularly those 60 and older or who have weakened immune systems, West Nile virus can cause a serious and potentially fatal infection of the brain and spinal cord,” according to the Health Department.

“The most common symptoms are headache, fever, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. Symptoms of more severe illness can also include changes in mental status and muscle weakness. If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, see your doctor right away. For more information about West Nile virus, and how to avoid it, visit nyc.gov/health/wnv or call 311.”

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