2004-07-08 / Other News

Health Dept. Announces Arrival Of West Nile Virus Season

Health Dept. Announces Arrival Of West Nile Virus Season

Health Dept. Announces Arrival Of West Nile Virus Season

The season’s first sign of West Nile virus (WNV) in New York City was an-nounced by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) last week.

A mosquito pool collected from the Shore Acres neighborhood on Staten Island was confirmed positive for WNV, and as a result DOHMH has increased mosquito surveillance and larviciding in surrounding areas. With the official arrival of West Nile Virus season, DOHMH

Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH reminded New Yorkers, particularly those over the age of 50, to be vigilant about reducing mosquito-breeding sites around the home, and taking personal precautions to reduce mosquito bites.

Commissioner Frieden said, "Although we typically do not see people being infected with the virus until later in the summer, it is never too early for people to begin to take simple measures to reduce mosquito breeding and to prevent mosquito bites. New Yorkers should get rid of standing water and make sure window screens are installed tightly and are free of tears or holes.

"As the summer goes on, people over the age of 50, and especially those over the age of 65, should be particularly careful to guard against mosquito bites, as they are more likely to develop severe complications if infected with West Nile Virus," Commissioner Frieden added. "A recent survey of older New Yorkers found that half of those interviewed didn’t know they were at highest risk." Dr. Frieden recommended such measures as wearing protective clothing and using an insect repellent containing DEET.

To prevent the spread of West Nile Virus, DOHMH monitors birds and adult mosquitoes for the presence of WNV and works closely with the medical community to monitor human illness. DOHMH conducts larval mosquito control (larviciding) throughout the summer months.

If WNV activity poses an imminent risk to human health, DOHMH is prepared to spray pesticides to targeted areas to reduce the number of adult mosquitoes. DOHMH also inspects properties with areas of standing water that can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

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