Mosquitoes around parts of northeast Queens were found to be carrying West Nile Virus, the city Health Department reported, but posed no threat to the residents living in the southern part of the borough.
It was the first West Nile detection of the season, the city said, mostly emanating from Douglaston and College Point as well as part of Staten Island. No human cases of the virus were reported, the DOH said, and there was no cause for alarm just yet.
The city spotted West Nile near Alley Creek in northeast Queens, in the footprint of the abandoned Flushing Airport and at Dubois Point near Edgemere Park. But communities like Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven were still safe from the virus for now, the city said.
“So far, mosquito numbers are near their average for this time of year,” a spokesman for the DOH said. “No mosquitoes have been found in southern Queens with West Nile Virus. The most important thing for New Yorkers to do is avoid getting bitten by using repellant when outside at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.”
Health Department officials said they were upping the number of traps for the mosquitoes throughout the borough and treating catch basins in the vulnerable areas, including northeast Queens. The goal, the agency said, was to kill the mosquito larvae before they can attack by spraying larvicide into the city’s catch basins, marshland and areas with standing water.
“Now that West Nile virus has returned to New York City, it is important to take simple precautions to protect you and your family,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “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. 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.”
The spokesmen said residents should rid their properties of any standing water and try not to leave out any buckets, birdbaths or other receptacles that can hold water, as standing water serves as a virtual magnet for the pesky mosquitoes. Anyone with standing water in their neighborhood can call 311 and the DOH will come out to inspect, the agency said.
Larvicide sprayings were scheduled over non-residential areas of the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island throughout last week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. through Tuesday, the DOH said.
The DOH assured that not all people who become infected with the virus were doomed to severe illness, but other symptoms for West Nile included flu-like symptoms like headaches, fevers, fatigue, weakness or a rash. Anyone who thinks they might have come in contact with West Nile mosquitoes should see a doctor immediately, the agency said.
By Phil Corso