Q. Is it true that mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus are back?
A. Yes, in 2012, mosquito pools with West Nile Virus-positive results have been found in all five New York City boroughs. As of Aug. 24, 2012, the NYC Dept. of Health reported 5 human cases of West Nile Virus in Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. For more information, please visit the NYC Dept. of Health’s West Nile virus page.
Learn more from a 2012 New York State Dept. of Health press release: State Health Commissioner Urges New Yorkers to Protect Themselves Against Mosquito-Borne Illnesses.
Q. How is West Nile Virus spread?
A. West Nile virus is spread to humans by the bite from an infected mosquito.
A person cannot get West Nile virus from another person who has the disease. West Nile virus is not spread by person-to-person contact such as touching, kissing, or caring for someone who is infected.
Q. What can I do to avoid the West Nile virus?
A. According to Dr. Thomas Farley, NYC Health Commissioner, ”Warm standing water is the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, so it is vitally important to make sure standing water is reduced to help prevent mosquito breeding… The best way to reduce risk is to wear repellent outdoors in the evening, when mosquitoes are most active.”
The NYC Dept. of Health recommends the following precautions from June through October, when mosquitoes are most active:
· Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts, particularly at dusk and dawn when most mosquitoes are searching for a blood meal.
· Avoid shaded, bushy areas where mosquitoes like to rest.
· Limit outdoor evening activity, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
· Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 to help reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Always read the repellents label. For more information, see the NYC Dept. of Health’s Insect Repellent Use & Safety Fact Sheet.
Q. How is the City controlling the mosquito population?
A. The NYC Dept. of Health is using an 'integrated pest management' approach to controlling mosquitoes, including inspecting and treating standing water sites with larvicides that contain a naturally occurring soil bacterium specific to mosquitoes to kill larval mosquitoes before they develop into flying adults and can bite humans, as well as chemical pesticides (adulticides) to kill adult mosquitoes. Should the NYC Dept. of Health decide to spray pesticides during the coming West Nile Virus season, we will post the spray schedule here.
For more information, the Cornell/NYS Integrated Pest Management Program has a brochure titled, "What's all the buzz about mosquitoes" that can be accessed here or as a PDF (¿Qué pasa con el mosquito?).
The full list of NYS IPM publications can be found here: http://nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/