New West Nile Virus Findings Released

New Findings to be Posted on Health Department Website

Albany, July 19, 2001 – The New York State Department of Health reminds reporters that when there are additional laboratory confirmations of West Nile virus, they will be posted on the Department's website at 4:30 p.m. Monday–Friday. Today, July 19, 2001, the Department has posted positive results from three new counties, including a positive mosquito pool, bringing the 2001 State total of counties with confirmed presence of West Nile virus to five.

To access the new information, reporters should visit the New York State Department of Health website (www.health.state.ny.us). Select the "West Nile Virus" button listed under "Features," followed by "West Nile Virus Update."

State Health officials continue to encourage New Yorkers to continue to report dead birds, particularly crows, to their local health departments or via a toll free number (1–866–537–BIRD). Tracking the numbers of dead crows will help measure the potential human health risk from the virus. Also critical are continued efforts to remove areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed.

Research indicates that during late July, August and September the risk of human illness from West Nile virus increases. This is because the virus must amplify through a cycle of infection that includes mosquitoes, birds and small mammals before it reaches a level that poses a human health threat. By continuing to clean up standing water where mosquitoes breed, and remaining vigilant about these prevention strategies throughout the summer, individuals can dramatically reduce the human health threat. Man–made collections of stagnant water such as unchlorinated swimming pools, dirty bird baths, discarded tin cans, old tires and similar items in which water can accumulate all must be addressed:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots and similar water–holding containers.
  • Remove all discarded tires on your property. Used tires have become the most common mosquito breeding ground in the country.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
  • Make sure gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change the water in bird baths.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate stagnant water that collects on your property; clean up leaf litter and similar organic debris.

To keep mosquitoes from getting inside the home, persons should make sure that all their doors and windows have screens and that the screens are in good repair.

Individuals age 50 or older are at the highest risk of serious illness or death from West Nile virus. One in 150 people who are infected will become seriously ill; others will have mild "flu–like" symptoms or none at all. There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus infection. If the disease progresses into encephalitis, hospitalization and supportive treatment will be necessary.

7/19/01–83 OPA