KEY POINTS

  • NYC health officials revealed there is a presence of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus
  • First signs were found in Staten Island and The Bronx
  • So far, no humans are infected by the virus

New York City health officials revealed+ they have detected the presence of mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in New York City released a statement warning the public that the West Nile virus is back. This was after health officials detected the first signs of the virus-carrying mosquitoes on Staten Island and in The Bronx.

The city’s health department stated there are no human infections reported so far. The blood-sucking parasites often wreak havoc between the spring and late summer seasons. Health officials say NYC personnel have set up around 106 surveillance traps throughout the city’s five boroughs and also plan to increase such efforts in places where there is "persistent" activity of West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes.

Health workers are reportedly using pesticides to stem the mosquito’s adult population and at the same time, target infected larvae before they mature and bite, a statement from the city’s health department informed. In 2019, there were at least four New York City residents who tested positive for the disease, reports said.

Health experts said around 80% of those infected with the West Nile virus suffer only mild symptoms while some of them are asymptomatic. However, adults above 50 years of age are reportedly at an increased risk of suffering a severe illness, particularly those with a weakened immune system.

The DOH says the West Nile virus symptoms are similar to food poisoning or the flu. Warning signs include gastrointestinal problems, high fever, and body aches. In serious cases, patients experience tremors, stiff neck seizures, confusion, and paralysis. This means the virus has entered the central nervous system and caused the brain and spinal cord to suffer severe infections.

Symptoms often appear within 3 to 15 days after an infected mosquito bites the victim. These mosquitoes typically live near slow-moving or standing bodies of water. These include puddles, swamps, ponds, and buckets of water. These types of mosquitoes usually bite more during dawn and dusk. At present, there is no cure for the disease although there are available treatments for the symptoms.

To minimize exposure, the city’s health department recommends using an approved insect repellent, particularly those that contain picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil, or DEET. Residents, where these mosquitoes are detected, can also opt for repellents that contain the active ingredient IR3535, or insecticide ethyl butyl-acetylamino propionate.

Health officials also recommend residents to get rid of standing water found within their property. They added that now is a good time to clean those gutters.