October 5, 2021
WESTCHESTER, NY — A 66-year-old woman with an underlying condition has been hospitalized after contracting the West Nile Virus, marking the second case of the mosquito-borne illness in Westchester County.
Now, health officials are addressing concerns about the area’s growing mosquito population following a wet summer, and giving residents specific tips for keeping safe.
“This second West Nile Virus case should serve as a reminder for all of us to take precautions against mosquito bites by removing standing water from our property and using repellents when we spend time outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active,” Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, said in a press release.
The Westchester Department of Health sets traps at various parks within the county between Memorial Day and late September. The trapped mosquitoes were then transferred to the state lab to screen for various infections, including WNV.
Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Schumer called for the federal government to assist in killing mosquitoes in New York, saying the state had lived through “one of the worst mosquito seasons in recent memory.” The Health Department conducted mosquito spraying in Manhattan and Staten Island on September 27 in an effort to end mosquito breeding.
“Since the East Coast dealt with rain from Hurricane Ida, wetter weather can mean more mosquitoes as they lay their eggs and spend their first few days of life in water,” Noreen Hynes, director at the Geographic Medicine Center of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University, told Love By Life Publication.
The West Nile Virus, also known as WNV, originated in Uganda and was first discovered in the US in 1999. WNV is originally a bird disease that transfers to the mosquito when the bird is bitten. Infected mosquitoes then transfer the virus to humans. While most people experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body ache, and rash, the virus can be dangerous if it enters the brain or spinal cord, causing inflammation that can lead to meningitis or death. The elderly and people with underlying conditions are at the highest risk.
According to the Westchester Department of Health, there are no vaccines to protect against the disease. However, you become immune once you are infected with the virus.