Could W. Nile spike be linked to foreclosures?

September 18, 2008 11:01:51 AM PDT
The death of the Mineola man is the third in the county linked to the mosquito-borne illness this year. Health officials have not made his identity public. They also confirmed Thursday a fourth case of the virus, that of a 56-year-old woman. The total number of confirmed West Nile cases An increase in the number of West Nile Virus cases this summer has officials in one New York community studying whether the spike could be linked to the rise in mortgage foreclosures.

Health officials in Nassau County on Long Island are still evaluating data, but Cornell University professor David Pimentel contends there is definitely a link.

He says foreclosed and unattended homes usually have pools of stagnant water, which are a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread the virus.

Health officials say they have had 14 confirmed cases of the disease this summer, including three fatalities. The situation prompted officials last week to conduct aerial pesticide spraying over a 50,000-acre section of the county.

In 2007, Nassau County had two cases with no deaths; in 2006 there were five cases including one death; and in 2005 there were 12 cases with one death. Commissioner of Health Dr. Maria Torroella Carney urges residents to:

  • Empty standing water from old tires, garbage cans, or any object that can hold water
  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall
  • Keep swimming pools chlorinated and their covers free of stagnant water
  • Change the water in birdbaths every two or three days
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair
  • Consider wearing long sleeves, pants, socks and mosquito repellent (according to directions) where mosquitoes are active, especially in the late afternoon and at dawn and dusk
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outside, especially at dawn and dusk

    To report a mosquito problem, please call the Department of Public Works Mosquito Control at 516-572-1166 weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Residents can hear the latest information about West Nile virus by calling (516) 227-9700. The information is available 24 hours a day. In addition, West Nile information may be found on the Health Department Web site at

    How to Reduce Exposure to Mosquitoes:

  • Use an approved mosquito repellent in areas where mosquitoes are active. Repellents containing the active ingredients DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are approved for use by New York State and the U.S. EPA and for protection against biting mosquitoes. Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than three. Always read the repellent's label and follow instructions.
  • New York City residents can report dead birds or standing water by calling 311 or visiting
  • The Health Department's Web site has up-to-date information and maps on mosquito activity.

    For more information:

    National Library of Medicine: West Nile Virus

    KidsHealth: What is West Nile Virus?


    WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King