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Westchester Man Ill With West Nile Virus

A Mamaroneck resident may have contracted West Nile Virus locally, though an investigation is still pending.

An elderly resident of in the Village of Mamaroneck has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus and is currently in a coma, said the village's mayor, Norm Rosenblum.

The man's family—who asked that his name and address not be released to the public—contacted Rosenblum to notify him that the man had been diagnosed about a week and a half ago while visiting friends in Canada.

The Westchester County Department of Health conducted a local environmental assessment of the area around the man’s home today for signs of mosquito breeding activity nearby, but none were found.

The 72-year-old man was diagnosed on Sept. 18 with West Nile Virus and remains in serious condition. The severity of the illness may have been exacerbated by the fact that his immune system has been weakened with leukemia, said Rosenblum, who is in contact with the family. 

"His condition is improving, he is conscious but cannot speak, but has acknowledged his family present in the room. They expect him to be where he is for at least one more week before he will be transported to White Plains Hospital," he said in an email sent out to the press.

The family has expressed concern over the cost of moving him to White Plains Hospital, which is expected to exceed $22K.

This is the third case of West Nile Virus in humans this year. A 28-year-old New Rochelle man and a 71-year-old Mamaroneck woman were diagnosed with West Nile Virus in the past month and have recovered, said the Department of Health. 

According to the Department of Health website, a total of 25 batches of mosquitos tested positive for West Nile Virus since June, 10 of them from Mamaroneck. According to the Department, only 31 people have been diagnosed with West Nile in the past 12 years—there was one death as a result.

Since 2001, the Department has monitored for mosquitos by setting up traps throughout the county from May to October; trapped mosquitos are sorted and tested three times per week, according to their website. There are three trap sites in Larchmont and Mamaroneck, seven in Rye and four in New Rochelle.

The Department of Health has the following tips on their website for mosquito prevention: 

  • Remove from around your home and neighborhood anything that might hold standing water. For example: old tires, buckets and wheelbarrows.
  • Report any standing water that you cannot remove by calling (914) 813-5000.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. 

Symptoms of West Nile Virus can range from no symptoms to fever, aching muscles and headaches.  People over 65 and those with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of serious complications from West Nile, including encephalitis, meningitis and acute flaccid paralysis, according to the New York City Department of health website. Symptoms of complications include headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion and coma, among others. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offer a more comprehensive list of preventative measures one can take to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Generally, the the more active ingredient a repellent contains the longer it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of active ingredient in a repellent does not mean that your protection is better—just that it will last longer. Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors.
  • Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's DIRECTIONS FOR USE, as printed on the product.
  • Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin. Do not apply repellent to skin under your clothing.
  • When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
  • Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.
  • Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times.
  • Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
  • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes in areas outdoors where you work or play, by draining sources of standing water. In this way, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.
  • At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
  • Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.
  • Remove discarded tires, and other items that could collect water.
  • Be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home. Note: Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites.
HEALtheHARBOR.com September 28, 2012 at 02:04 AM
The WNV victim in this case lives 1.9 miles from Hen Island in Rye. The County Health Department surveyed the neighborhood around the man's home today and found no breeding sites. All they had to do was travel 1.9 miles and they would have found millions of mosquito's breeding on Hen Island. Unfortunately the City of Rye (Mayor Doug French) and the County Health Department (Deputy Health Commissioner Morrissey) has made enforcement into a political football and now it is costing Westchester residents their lives. I am sure you will be shocked, amazed and appalled after watching this video on how the City of Rye and the County of Westchester allow and encourage mosquito breeding here in Westchester. https://vimeo.com/47034186

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