Manhattan resident dies of West Nile virus, five more diagnosed in this year’s mosquito season

Aedes aegypti Mosquito
Photo via Getty Images

Six New Yorkers were recently diagnosed with West Nile virus, with one New York City resident dying from the infection, the Health Department announced Thursday.

According to the Health Department, the patients — two people from Queens, two from Manhattan, one from Brooklyn and one from Staten Island — were diagnosed in the 2020 season and were admitted to the hospital. One of the patients from Manhattan, who is said to be over 65 years old and is thought to have been infected while traveling out of NYC, succumbed to the infection.

This is the first death from West Nile virus infection in New York City since 2018. The other five patients were discharged from the hospital.

“We mourn the loss of a fellow New Yorker and urge everyone to take simple precautions to keep themselves and their families safe from mosquito bites,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. “When outside, wear mosquito repellent, cover your arms and legs, and discard standing water and install window screens to reduce your risk.”

Every year since 1999, people in New York City are diagnosed with West Nile virus infection, with most identified between late July and October, with the amount of West Nile virus activity varying every year. Ten New Yorkers were diagnosed with West Nile virus during the 2019 season and out of the 434 New Yorkers diagnosed with West Nile virus since 1999, 47 (11%) have died due to their infection.

For individuals over 50 or with compromised immune systems, West Nile virus can cause severe illness, including meningitis and encephalitis, sometimes resulting in permanent or long-term complications such as muscle weakness, fatigue, confusion and depression. Others may experience milder symptoms, which include headache, fever, fatigue, and rash. 

The number of mosquito pools testing positive for West Nile virus this season is 413, which is 15% more than last year at this point in time. T Health Department has completed ­­11 mosquito spray operations and two aerial larvicide treatments so far this year to reduce the risk of West Nile virus, with more being planned for the rest of the season. The Health Department normally conducts 80 to 90 presentations to educate communities about mosquito-borne illnesses. This year, due to COVID-19 related restrictions, the Department conducted a reduced number of virtual presentations. Community presentations on West Nile virus and other health topics can be requested here.

Click here for more information about how to protect yourself from mosquito bites and the West Nile virus. To receive updates on West Nile virus activity and control effects in the City, please register to receive direct alerts by landline or text messaging through Notify NYC. You can also follow the DOHMH’s social media at @NYCHealthy at Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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