West Nile virus detected in 2 people, record number of mosquitos in New York City

A view of uptown Manhattan from the Empire State Building is seen in New York City on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

New York City health officials announced that the West Nile Virus (WNV) has been detected in two people and a record number of mosquitos in the city. 

In a news release on Wednesday, the New York City health department said that the two human virus cases were detected in the Queens and Brooklyn boroughs of the city, adding that a total of 1,068 WNV-positive mosquito pools have been detected across all five city boroughs. 

The 1,068 virus-positive mosquito pools marks the highest number ever recorded by city health officials, compared to last year’s total of 779 detected positive mosquito pools. 

WNV symptoms include headache, fever, muscle aches and extreme fatigue, and residents who are 60 years and older or have a weakened immune system can develop a serious or fatal illness of the brain and spinal cord called West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND), which could require hospitalization, the news release said. 

A total of 54 virus cases and four virus-related deaths have been reported in the U.S. this year alone. 

Health officials first detected the WNV in the city 21 years ago, as a yearly average of 16 people have been diagnosed with the WNND disease in the city. 

In a statement, the city’s Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan advised residents to take precautions during this virus season. 

“Use an EPA registered insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, especially when outside at dusk and dawn when the types of mosquitoes that transmit WNV are most active,” Vasan said in a statement. “In addition, you can stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water by emptying outdoor containers that hold water or calling 311 if you see standing water that you cannot empty. Help keep you and your loved ones safe with these actions during WNV season.”

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