The Health Department announced that a 41-year-old Brooklyn woman had tested positive for the West Nile virus. This is the first reported case of West Nile in the city this year. The woman was hospitalized on August 25th, after suffering symptoms like fever, headache, fatigue, weakness and muscle pain.
Though it is possible she was exposed to West Nile outside of the city since she did travel in the weeks preceding her illness, the Health Department wants to make sure New Yorkers take precautions. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden said, "Wear mosquito repellent and long pants and sleeves if you’re outside in the evening, and be sure your window screens are intact. These simple steps can help stop the spread of West Nile virus.” And here are some other tips:
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.
- Make sure that 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 dead birds or standing water by calling 311 or visiting www.nyc.gov/health/wnv
Keep in mind that even visiting the courtyard or garden of a restaurant can mean interaction with bugs.
The city has been spraying pesticide in all five boroughs this summer. Here is information about the virus, and a West Nile outbreak in 1999, which killed 7 people with 55 others sickened, spurred the city to ramp up its mosquito spraying efforts.