The West Nile virus has been detected in Flushing and Staten Island for the first time this season, city officials said.
Infected mosquitoes were collected from the Pomonok area of Queens and the Huguenot Beach neighborhood in Staten Island, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.
While no human cases were reported, the department advises residents to take preventative measures to safeguard themselves against the virus.
“Now that West Nile virus has returned to New York City, it is important to take simple precautions to protect you and your family,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “Be sure to wear mosquito repellent when outdoors and cover your arms and legs if you’re outside at dawn or dusk.”
He added that people older than 50 should be especially cautious as they are more likely to develop serious illness if they contract the virus.
The West Nile is a mosquito-borne infectious agent that can cause encephalitis — inflammation of the brain — or meningitis, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord’s lining. Infected mosquitoes spread the virus to humans by biting them.
Most people who are infected with West Nile virus either have no symptoms or experience mild illness such as fever, headache and body aches before fully recovering, the department said. Symptoms generally appear within three to 15 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Some may also develop a mild rash or swollen lymph glands.
Helicopters will be spraying larvicide over College Point this week to reduce the mosquito population.
If you develop symptoms such as high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, severe headaches and stiff neck, or if your eyes become sensitive to light, you should see a doctor, experts warn.
Officials advise residents to:
- Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535.
- Make sure windows have screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
- Eliminate any standing water from your property since it provides a breeding site for mosquitoes. Also, dispose of containers that can collect water.
- Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered when not in use. Drain water that collects in pool covers.