Brooklyn Boro

City’s first human case of West Nile virus hits Brooklyn

August 17, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The West Nile virus has spread to ten zip codes in Brooklyn, and on Sunday city health officials confirmed that a Brooklyn man was the first in the city to be hospitalized with viral meningitis. Graphic courtesy of the NYC Department of Health

Mosquitoes carrying virus found in ten Brooklyn Zip Codes

Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been detected in ten zip codes in Brooklyn, and on Sunday health officials confirmed that a Brooklyn man was the first in the city to be hospitalized with viral meningitis. According to the New York City Health Department, the patient was over the age of 60 and has been treated and released.

The virus has also been detected in mosquitos in large swaths of Staten Island and Queens. Spraying is taking place in Queens on Monday night and in 15 Brooklyn neighborhoods on Wednesday, August 19, between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning, weather permitting.

These include parts of Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Fort Hamilton, New Utreht, parts of  Georgetown, Mill Basin, Flatlands, East Flatbush, Flatbush,  Marine Park, Midwood and Mill Island.

“This first case of West Nile virus disease in New York City provides a vital reminder to protect ourselves against mosquito bites,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said 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,” she added. “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.”

Mosquitoes pick up the virus from birds carrying the disease. Symptoms include sudden high fever, muscle pains and a headache that worsens.

There is no commercially available human vaccine for either West Nile virus, according to the Health Department, so the best way to protect yourself is to keep mosquitoes from biting you.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water. The Health Department urges residents to dispose of used tires, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers in which water collects, and to drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.

They also advise residents to turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use and change the water in bird baths twice a week.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends choosing a bug repellent that contains DEET, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus for use on skin.  Clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents, can be treated with products containing permethrin. (Permethrin should not be used on skin.) Use only small amounts when applying repellents on children.

In spraying for mosquitoes, the Health Department uses a very low concentration of Anvil® 10+10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health, according to the city. Still, the Health Department recommends that people stay indoors during spraying, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, and remove children’s toys, equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If anything is exposed to pesticides, wash it with soap and water before using again.

Mosquito season in NYC peaks from July 1 through October 31.