New York City confirms 5 human cases of West Nile virus

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. (WABC)

The New York City Health Department is confirming the first human cases of West Nile virus this season.

Health officials said Monday the virus was detected in five New York City residents, all over the age of 50. Two patients were from Brooklyn, the others were from Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan.

Three of the patients were hospitalized and have since been discharged. The other two cases did not require hospitalization.

Most people infected with the mosquito-borne virus either show no symptoms or suffer a flu-like illness. A small number develop a serious illness that can lead to neurological damage.

Protective measures against mosquitoes include eliminating standing water, using repellent, wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants, and repairing doors and screens for tight fits.

To reduce the mosquito population around homes, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed:
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
- Remove all discarded tires on the property.
- Make sure roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Change the water in birdbaths.
- Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and keep shrubs and grass trimmed.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
- Drain water from pool covers.

Most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Individuals, especially those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, who are most at risk, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

- To avoid mosquito bites, residents are advised to:
- Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
- Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are more active.
- Use mosquito repellent when outdoors, following label directions carefully.
- Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.

Dead birds found on area properties may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call 311. Residents are encouraged to take a photograph of any bird in question.
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healthwest nile virusmosquitoNew York City
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