It's been about a month and a half since the Health Department issued its first summer warning about West-Nile-carrying mosquitoes in New York City—Glen Oaks in Queens and New Dorp Beach in Staten Island, specifically—but only yesterday did the city announce the first hospitalization, treatment, and discharge of a West Nile patient in the five boroughs.
"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 Mary Bassett in a statement. "Wearing mosquito repellent when you are outdoors, and long sleeves and pants in the morning and evening will reduce your risk of infection."
According to the Health Department, the Brooklyn man who tested positive for the virus was over 60 years old, and therefore susceptible to more dire symptoms than younger patients—potentially fatal brain and spinal chord infections (same goes for people with weakened immune systems). Milder West Nile cases might be symptom-free, but the most common symptoms of the virus are a headache, fever, achy muscles, and extreme exhaustion. This particular patient was hospitalized with viral meningitis.
The city has already done six rounds of pesticide spraying this summer to curb mosquito spawning, including an aerial spraying over Staten Island and Queens earlier this month, and larviciding (killing mosquito larvae in catch basins before they emerge as flying buggers) in Queens in July and August. Weather permitting, another spraying is planned for tonight, between 8:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., in Queens neighborhoods that have recently exhibited "rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations."
A "very low concentration" of a synthetic pesticide called Anvil will be sprayed over parts of Blissville, Sunnyside, Astoria, Ditrmars, Steinway, Woodside, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Oakland Gardens, Briarwood, Forrest Hills, Glendale, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Richmond Hills, and Woodhaven. According to the Health Department, although the pesticides pose "no significant risk" to humans when used "properly," everyone is encouraged to stay inside during spraying, and bring in any toys and lawn chairs. It goes without saying that you should wash the tomatoes in your window box before chopping them into your salad.
Human cases of West Nile have occurred every year in New York City, usually between July and October, since the disease was first discovered Stateside in 1999. Last year there were 12 reported human cases of more serious West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease—cases of West Nile that resulted in encephalitis, meningitis, or severe muscle weakness associated with the disease—and three cases of mild to moderate West Nile fever. Five of those cases were in Brooklyn, 4 in Queens, 2 in Staten Island, and 1 in Manhattan.