Brooklyn man has season's first confirmed case of West Nile virus in New York City

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Sunday, August 16, 2015
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Health Department has confirmed the season's first human case of West Nile virus in a Brooklyn man who was hospitalized with viral meningitis.

The patient was over the age of 60 years and has been treated and discharged.

Health officials also a number of Queens neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations.

They will be sprayed starting Monday night at 8:30 p.m., through 6 a.m. Tuesday.

"This first case of West Nile virus disease in New York City provides a vital reminder to protect ourselves against mosquito bites," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "Wearing mosquito repellent when you are outdoors, and long sleeves and pants in the morning and evening will reduce your risk of infection. New Yorkers age 60 and older or persons with weakened immune systems should be especially careful as they are more likely to become seriously ill, and in rare instances die, if infected."

Human cases of West Nile virus occur each year in New York City, typically from July through October. A total of 318 New Yorkers have been diagnosed with West Nile virus since it was first found in the United States in 1999.

The Health Department's aggressive West Nile Virus program focuses on prevention first and then mosquito control. The agency uses a comprehensive approach to monitor the city for West Nile virus and help control its spread by mosquitoes. Exterminators are surveying and treating, if required, routine and other potential mosquito breeding sites all over the City.

The agency inspects and treats standing water sites with non-chemical larvicides to kill larval mosquitoes before they emerge as flying adults. When necessary, the agency also applies small amounts of chemical pesticides (adulticides) to kill adult mosquitoes. A schedule of mosquito control activities is available online at or by phone from the 311 call center.

To date, the Health Department has completed 6 rounds of pesticide spraying this season to reduce the number of mosquitoes and the risk of West Nile virus. A third aerial larviciding was conducted on August 5 and 6 on Staten Island and Queens. The Health Department treats 62,160 catch basins in Queens two to three times per year. The second round of catchbasin treatments (larviciding) was completed on July 30 and the third round of treatment started on August 4, 2015. The Health Department has conducted 90 WNV presentations across the five boroughs.

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, West Nile virus can cause a serious and potentially fatal infection of the brain and spinal cord. 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 or call 311.

Reducing Exposure to Mosquitoes

Consider reducing the amount of time spent outdoors during the hours between dusk and dawn in areas with heavy mosquito populations.

Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under three years of age).

Make sure windows have screens, and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

Eliminate any standing water from your property, and dispose of containers that can collect water. Standing water is a violation of the New York City Health Code.

Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.

Report standing water by calling 311 or visiting