Upstate New York Mosquito Tests Positive for Potentially Life-Threatening Illness
Despite the cooling weather, health officials say mosquitoes continue to present a threat against New Yorkers.
Because of a rise in mosquito-borne illnesses, testing of mosquito pools are still happening across the state.
Mosquito-borne diseases, which are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, can sometimes cause serious or fatal side effects - especially in the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
Good thing the health department is continuing with its testing because one potentially deadly virus was detected for the first time in a Madison County town.
This has sparked renewed calls for caution among the immediate area, with health officials urging residents to take preventative measures.
First Detection of West Nile Virus
Madison County Public Health officials announced that West Nile virus was detected in a mosquito for the first time in the Town of Sullivan. The positive test came from a mosquito pool taken on September 28.
The virus can cause flu-like symptoms in infected persons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 1 in 5 infected individuals will develop symptoms like fever, headaches, body aches, joint pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.
Most people do make a full recovery from the virus, but there have been instances where infected individuals suffered from lingering fatigue and weakness for weeks or even months.
About one in 150 people with West Nile Virus have developed serious side effects such as inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
People who develop such side effects will experience symptoms like neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, vision loss, paralysis, and even coma. Those over the age of 60 are at greater risk of developing these serious side effects.
The same goes for those with certain medical conditions like cancer, hypertension, or those who received an organ donation.
About 1 in 10 people who develop West Nile virus symptoms that impact the central nervous system die.
Those struggling with an infection should get plenty of rest and drink fluids. Over the counter pain medication has also been said to alleviate milder symptoms.
In severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.
.There is no cure for West Nile virus. Antibiotics also do not work on the illness.
Protect Yourself Against West Nile Virus
Sullivan residents, or those living in municipalities where a WNV detection was reported, should take extra precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
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It's strongly advised people spray themselves in EPA-registered insect repellent that has DEET as one of its ingredients.
People are also advised to wear long sleeves and pants when outside - especially around dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
It is also advised to clear all standing water around one's household, as that is where mosquitoes breed and lay their eggs.
Mosquito activity drops when temperatures remain below 60 degrees. The insects die off or go dormant when temperatures stay below 50 degrees.
West Nile Virus in NYS
West Nile Virus was first detected in NY in 1999. It has since spread across the country and is considered endemic in the Empire State.
Since then, the state has reported 1,126 cases of West Nile virus and 37 WNV-related deaths.
Health officials warn that mosquito activity is heightened in September and that all New Yorkers must take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and minimize their risk of contracting the West Nile virus.