Two people in New York City have been infected with West Nile as the virus has been detected in a record-shattering number of mosquitoes across the Big Apple, the City Health Department announced Tuesday.
One human case of the virus was reported in Brooklyn and the other in Queens, while the department detected mosquitoes in all five boroughs to be carriers for West Nile.
Mosquitoes can transmit the potentially deadly virus to humans through a bite.
However, most people infected with West Nile develop mild symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue — or no symptoms at all.
The majority of people who contract the virus make a full recovery, though some continue to experience health issues months after initial infection, according to the health department.
People 60 years and older and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing a serious and potentially fatal illness called West Nile neuroinvasive disease which affects the brain and spinal cord. An average of 16 people a year are diagnosed with the disease in the city, according to data from the past decade.
West Nile-infected mosquitoes typically show up in New York City between July through October with August and September being their peak season.
This year, the health department found a record number of mosquitoes were carrying the virus. The department detected 1,068 positive mosquito pools — the highest number ever recorded — across the five boroughs compared to 779 positive pools at the same time last year.
“We are in the height of West Nile virus season, but there are things you can do to decrease your risk of being bitten,” Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said in a statement. “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 also said New Yorkers should empty any water from outdoor containers and report any standing water they are unable to drain to 311.
Across the country, there have been 54 cases and four deaths related to the virus reported this year.
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