First Human West Nile Case Found In Westchester

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A New Rochelle man was recently diagnosed with West Nile Virus, the first human case this year in Westchester County.
A New Rochelle man was recently diagnosed with West Nile Virus, the first human case this year in Westchester County. Photo Credit:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A 28-year-old New Rochelle man is recovering at home after being hospitalized with West Nile virus, the first human case diagnosed this year in Westchester, according to the County Health Department.

Three people were diagnosed with the virus in 2011, none of which resulted in death. Additionally, 26 mosquito batches tested positive for the virus in 2011. This year, 22 batches have tested positive, the first in Mamaroneck in late July.

“Despite a surge in West Nile Virus activity nationwide, so far mosquito activity in Westchester is on par with last year,’’ said Rick Morrissey, deputy commissioner for environmental health. “The County Health Department conducted extensive mosquito prevention efforts again this year, larvaciding over 40,000 street catch basins. We will continue to monitor mosquito activity and recommend that residents are vigilant about removing standing water on their property.’’

At the beginning of the summer, the County Health Department applied larvicide briquettes to street catch basins that held standing water, an ideal breeding environment for mosquitoes. In response to the first diagnoses of West Nile virus this year, the health department re-treated several catch basins around the victim’s home. It also checked for signs of mosquito breeding activity in the area of the victim's New Rochelle home and advised neighbors to remove any standing water from their properties.

West Nile virus most often causes a mild or moderate flu-like illness, but can be more serious and potentially fatal in people 50 and older and those with other health complications.

To help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds where you live:

  • Get rid of all water-holding containers, especially old tires, cans, buckets, drums, wheelbarrows and bottles.
  • Cover outdoor trash containers to keep rainwater from accumulating inside.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors.
  • Clean roof gutters and remove standing water from flat roofs.
  • Drain water in birdbaths, plant pots and drip trays twice a week.
  • Sweep driveways after it rains so that they are free of puddles.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.

To reduce your risk of mosquito bites:

  • Avoid being outdoors in places and during times mosquitoes are active and feeding.
  • Use insect repellents with no more than 30% DEET, but use them sparingly and with care.
  • Select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors.
  • Products with concentrations around 10% are effective for periods of approximately two hours.
  • A concentration of 24% has been shown to provide an average of five hours of protection. DEET should not be applied more than once a day.
  • Products containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under 2 months of age. Carefully read and follow directions on the container and wash treated skin when mosquito exposure has ended.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks, when outdoors in areas and at times mosquitoes are active.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
  • Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

For more information on the department’s larviciding and West Nile virus prevention activities, call the Westchester County Department of Health at 914-813-5000 or visit its website.

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Watch the below linked short documentary about how the County and the City is allowing mosquito breeding in Westchester.

Hen Island in Rye is home to Westchester County’s worst mosquito infestation. Every home on Hen Island illegally stores hundreds and sometimes thousands of gallons of water for domestic use. In addition, for years the high reed areas of the Island have been used as a dump site for debris that has washed ashore over the winter and during the summer. Trees that have been cut and pruned have been stored throughout the Island. Each one of these actions encourages the breeding of millions of mosquitoes. All of the above has been officially documented in a Westchester County investigation from 2007 and/or a City of Rye violation notice issued to Kuder Island on April 8th 2009. The City of Rye specifically addressed the mosquito infestation and put the Island on notice about their concerns as did a recent County report. To this date no actions have been taken to address any of the health and safety issues.

1.) In an area where West Nile occurs, the longer you're exposed to biting mosquitoes and the higher the concentration or number of mosquitoes at the location, the higher your chances are of acquiring the virus.

Rye’s Hen Island “Mosquito Factory” Officially Breeding West Nile Virus.

Hen Island – over 33,000 gallons of stagnant fresh water a few hundred yards offshore of Rye and Mamaroneck – millions of mosquito’s bred annually. Watch this new 11 minute documentary and note the reaction of the county health inspectors when they visited back in 2007. Nothing whatsoever has changed - except now when you call George V over there at WCDOH the first thing he says is - "Hen Island is private property you know."