The first positive West Nile Virus case of the year was reported in Westchester.
Westchester County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler said that the department was made aware of the first human case of the virus, which was confirmed in a 58-year-old resident.
Amler noted that the resident had multiple underlying medical conditions, and is currently hospitalized. Officials did not disclose where the positive case was reported.
Last year, three people were diagnosed with West Nile Virus, and in 2019, one Westchester County resident had the virus.
“This first case of West Nile Virus should remind us all to take precautions against mosquito bites by removing standing water from our property, especially after recent heavy rain and flooding, and using repellents when we spend time outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active,” Amler said.
According to officials, “most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis.”
“The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent,” officials noted. “Individuals, especially those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, who are most at risk, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”
Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, according to health officials.
The infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. In humans, West Nile Virus may cause a mild illness but may also cause encephalitis - inflammation of the brain - or meningitis - inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.
Health officials said that to avoid mosquito bites, one should:
- Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn;
- Wear shoes and socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitoes are active;
- Use mosquito repellent, following label directions carefully;
- Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair;
- Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, discarded tires, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, trash cans, and rain barrels.
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