The West Nile Virus has been detected in New York City mosquitoes for the first time this summer, the city's Health Department announced Monday.
Mosquitos collected from the Douglaston and College Point neighborhoods in Queens and Old Town in Staten Island tested positive for the virus.
While there have been no human cases reported so far this year, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett wants New Yorkers to take some "simple precautions."
“During warm weather, mosquitoes can breed in any still water that stands for more than four days, so the most effective way to control mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water," Bassett said in a statement. "New Yorkers are also encouraged to mosquito-proof their homes, wear mosquito repellent and cover their arms and legs if they’re outside at dawn or dusk. New Yorkers over 50 should be especially cautious, as they are more likely to develop serious illness if they contract the virus.”
According to the health department, West Nile Virus can cause "serious complications, including neurological diseases, and can also cause a milder flu-like illness with headache, fever and fatigue, weakness and sometimes rash." Those experiencing such symptoms are urged to see a doctor immediately.
Nationwide, nearly 5,700 people contracted the West Nile Virus in 2012, causing a record-high 286 deaths. In 2013, the number of those infected dropped significantly. Nearly 2,500 people around the country contracted the virus last year, resulting in 119 deaths.
Later this week, the New York City Health Department says it will kill mosquito larvae by spraying marshy areas of the city with larvacide.