Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta recently announced that the first cases of human West Nile virus infection for 2018 have been reported in two adults residing in Onondaga County. After being hospitalized in local hospitals earlier this month, both were discharged in stable condition and are recovering at home.
West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and is considered to be endemic, or widespread, in Central New York. Mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found in numerous mosquito traps throughout the county this summer.
While most people infected with West Nile virus (WNV) do not develop symptoms, 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Severe illness can strike at any age; however, people over 60 years of age and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or who have received organ transplants are at higher risk. Symptoms of severe illness may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, seizures, paralysis and coma that could lead to death. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for WNV infection. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms.
“Even though the numbers of mosquitoes are down at this time of the year, we continue to see positive pools of mosquito in our weekly mosquito traps,” Gupta said. “It takes only one infected mosquito to transmit infection into human. Therefore protecting yourself from mosquito bites is the best way to avoid WNV infection.”
Personal protection is recommended during outdoor activities by wearing shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Applying a mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or 2-undecanone is also recommended to prevent mosquito bites. Do not put the repellent on your face or directly onto children; put it on your hands and apply it to your child. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application.
It is also important to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home:
•Throw away outdoor containers, ceramic pots or containers that hold water
•Remove all tires from your property
•Clean clogged rain gutters and make sure they continue to work properly
•Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use
•Change water in bird baths at least every four days
•Clean chlorinated swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs
•Use landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates
The Onondaga County Health Department remains in close contact with the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. For the weekly mosquito pool test results and for more information about personal protection measures against mosquitoes, visit ongov.net/health/mosquitoborne.html or contact the Onondaga County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health at (315) 435-1649.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.