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Four people diagnosed with West Nile virus in NYC; Health Department warns New Yorkers to stay away from mosquitoes

Posted at 3:29 PM, Sep 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-12 15:29:06-04

NEW YORK — New Yorkers in three different boroughs were diagnosed with West Nile virus, officials said Thursday.

Two cases are in Queens, one case is in Staten Island and one case is in Brooklyn, a Health Department spokesperson said. West Nile virus can cause severe illness, including meningitis and encephalitis, sometimes resulting in permanent or long-term complications such as muscle weakness, fatigue, confusion and depression. Milder symptoms include include headache, fever, fatigue and rash.

“The findings from our mosquito and human surveillance serve as a reminder for all New Yorkers that they should take simple precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said. “Actions such as wearing mosquito repellent, covering arms and legs when outdoors, discarding standing water and installing window screens can reduce the human transmission of West Nile virus and save lives.”

Three to 47 people are diagnosed with West Nile virus in New York city annually, health department data shows. Since 1999, 11 percent of the New Yorkers diagnosed with West Nile virus have died.

West Nile virus is transmitted mainly by several Culex species, including Culex salinarius, Culex pipiens and Culex restuans.

The Health Department has recommendations for reducing exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under 3 years of age), or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535.
  • Make sure windows have screens. 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 or covered if not in use. Drain water that collects in pool covers.
  • Report standing water by calling 311.

For more information about West Nile virus, call 311 or visit