By Kelsey Durham
The city Department of Health said this week the city’s first evidence of West Nile virus this summer has been detected in northeast Queens.
The department said in a July 14 news release that mosquitoes infected with the disease were collected from Douglaston and College Point as well as Old Town, Staten Island. The agency said no human cases of the virus had been reported and said it would begin spraying larvicide in catch basins and marsh areas around the city to kill the infected insects before they bite.
Three areas of northeast Queens — Alley Creek, the abandoned Flushing Airport and Dubois Point near Edgemere Park — were set to be sprayed by helicopters July 17, July 18 and July 21 between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., the department’s website said.
Additional traps will also be set to treat catch basins in the affected areas, according to the release.
The department said mosquitoes, especially in warm weather, are attracted to standing water and urged residents to take caution to prevent the insects from spreading to their area.
“Now that West Nile virus has returned to New York City, it is important to take simple precautions to protect you and your family,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a release. “During warm weather, mosquitoes can breed in any still water that stands for more than four days, so the most effective way to control mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water.”
Bassett also encouraged residents to mosquito-proof their homes and wear repellent or cover their arms and legs while outside at dawn or dusk. She said residents over age 50 are at a higher risk to become seriously ill if they are infected with the virus and urged them to take caution.
The Health Department said not everyone who becomes infected with West Nile will become ill, but said anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, fatigue, weakness or a rash should see a doctor immediately.
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at [email protected].