New Yorkers Urged to Protect Against Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

New Yorkers Urged to Protect Against Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis Identified in Mosquitoes in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 1, 2010) - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today urged all New Yorkers to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, after mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been identified in several areas of the state.

"Mosquitoes can be more than just a nuisance," said Commissioner Daines. "In some cases, they can infect people with serious diseases such as West Nile virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis. We have seen an increase in the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes this year, increasing the risk of human infection through mosquito bites. New Yorkers should protect themselves when outdoors by using an effective mosquito repellent and wearing long pants and long sleeves and, when indoors, by keeping doors closed and ensuring window screens are in place."

To date this year, there have been 37 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in New York State, all on Long Island (Nassau County – 17 cases, Suffolk County – 7 cases) and New York City (13 cases). At this time last year, there were seven reported human cases statewide.

The State Health Department has identified more than 650 mosquito pools that have tested positive for West Nile virus in areas across the state, including New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Onondaga and Erie counties. The mosquito surveillance program has also confirmed the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus in mosquitoes collected in four Central New York counties: Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego. In recent years, EEE has also been found in Suffolk County and the lower Hudson Valley. Last year, there was a fatal human case of EEE in Oswego County, the first confirmed human case of the disease in the State in more than 25 years.

To protect against mosquito bites and potential exposure to West Nile virus and EEE, the State Health Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend applying insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. It is important to always follow the label directions when using insect repellent.

People are also advised to take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes around a home or property, eliminate standing water in yards, and make sure all windows and doors have screens that are in good repair. In addition, New Yorkers are urged to:

  • Dispose of used tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers in which water collects.
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors. Make sure roof gutters drain properly and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use and change the water in bird baths twice a week.
  • Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.

New York City and some counties have initiated mosquito control programs, including aerial spraying, to reduce public health risks. Residents should contact their local health department to obtain up-to-date information on mosquito control efforts in their county.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause serious illness and occasionally death. Many people who contract West Nile virus do not experience any type of illness, and an estimated 20 percent of people who become infected will develop mild symptoms including fever, headache and body aches, and possibly a skin rash or swollen lymph glands. Severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) causes symptoms such as high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, headaches, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and coma. It is estimated that one in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will experience more severe disease.

More information on West Nile virus is available at:

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes that can affect people and horses. People who are infected may suffer a range of symptoms, from no symptoms to a mild, flu-like illness with fever, headaches and fatigue to serious illness involving seizures and, in rare cases, coma.

More information on Eastern Equine Encephalitis is available at: