What you need to know about West Nile virus in New York

It was another potential threat for weary New Yorkers who may have to worry about a summer of other viral threats, including a new, highly contagious variant of Covid that has resurfaced with the monkeypox outbreak and polio spreading across the city this month. sewage.

Now, the New York City Department of Health has announced that West Nile virus has been found in two people, one in Brooklyn and one in Queens, as well as a “record number” of infected mosquitoes across the city.

A total of 54 cases and four deaths have been reported across the country this year, according to the Health Department’s announcement on Tuesday.

In New York, the number of mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile virus was a “record high” of 1,068 in the five boroughs, compared with 779 positive pools at this time last year, the health department said.

The city reported its first case of West Nile virus in 1999, according to the department

In the past decade, between six and 30 people have tested positive each year, with a fatality rate of about 14 percent. The first of two cases this year was identified late last week.

Here’s what West Nile virus is a risk factor for New Yorkers and how to protect yourself:

Above-average temperatures are a factor, a department spokesman said. Larvae are maturing into adults faster.

To prevent the spread of West Nile virus in the city, the health department has targeted areas where mosquitoes breed, including street sewers and salt marshes, using larvicides.

“So far, we have conducted several larvicidal activities, treated all 150,000 reservoirs, and are currently conducting two adult spraying activities per week, where observation indicates that WNV-positive mosquitoes are at levels that could affect public health,” he said. Shari S. Logan, a department spokesman, said in a statement.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can infect humans, birds and other mammals. Birds are the primary host for the virus, and mosquitoes are infected by bird bites, according to the CDC, which health officials say is unlikely to be transmitted by casual person-to-person contact.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms or may experience mild to moderate illness.

According to the CDC, about one in five develop a fever along with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, or a rash.

And one in 150 infected people will develop a severe disease that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, disorientation, coma, blurred vision, or paralysis.

According to health officials, people over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of severe disease. The average age of people with positive cases in New York is 62. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension, may also be at increased risk of developing severe disease.

Recovery from severe West Nile can take weeks to months, but damage to the central nervous system can be permanent.

A blood test may be done to diagnose West Nile infection.

There are no vaccines or drugs that specifically treat West Nile virus infections. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be used to help with some symptoms, and in severe cases hospitalization may be necessary.

The New York Department of Health recommends the use of insect repellents containing picaridin, which can be applied directly to skin and clothing. The US Environmental Protection Agency also has a list of recommended repellents.

Mosquitoes are most active from April to October, so limiting outdoor activities during those times, especially at dawn and dusk, can reduce the risk of contracting the virus. When outside, health officials recommend wearing protective clothing in the evening. During the day, they recommend avoiding dark clothing, shady areas where mosquitoes can lay their eggs, and any perfumes, colognes, and scented body lotions.

The city’s health department also encourages people to report 311 any areas with water that may harbor West Nile virus, which carries mosquitoes.

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