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2 New Cases of West Nile Virus Found as City Prepares to Spray Pesticide

By Leslie Albrecht | September 9, 2015 9:55am | Updated on September 9, 2015 12:16pm
 Three cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in New York City this year, health officials said.
Three cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in New York City this year, health officials said.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

BROOKLYN — Two more people have contracted the potentially deadly West Nile virus, bringing the total citywide to three cases, health officials confirmed Tuesday evening.

News of the infections came as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene prepared to spray swaths of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island with pesticide Wednesday.

The spraying will take place between 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday and is aimed at killing the mosquitoes that carry the virus.

Health officials discovered mosquitoes carrying West Nile in Staten Island and Queens in July and announced the season's first case of West Nile virus in August.

The first victim, who was hospitalized and discharged, was a man in his 60s. On Tuesday a DOHMH spokeswoman confirmed to DNAinfo New York in an email that the city had seen two other West Nile cases in humans, one in Brooklyn and one in Queens.

DOHMH did not provide details on when the other cases were confirmed or the circumstances surrounding them. A DOHMH spokeswoman said Wednesday that the agency typically only announces the first West Nile virus case of the season, then posts any updates online.

The Queens case was a man in Howard Beach who was hospitalized and discharged Sept. 1, the Queens Chronicle reported.

On Wednesday night, the city will use trucks to spray a "very low concentration" of the synthetic pesticide Anvil 10+10, which kills mosquitoes on contact, the agency said.

"When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health," DOHMH said in an announcement about the spraying issued Friday after 5 p.m.

However, DOHMH officials warned concerned residents to say indoors, close vents on air conditioners, and move kids' toys inside during the spraying. Police department and other vehicles will escort the trucks and announce that the spaying is about to take place and remind people to go inside.

Mosquitoes are active in the city April through October, according to DOHMH. This week's anti-mosquito campaign coincides with the first day of school, but a DOHMH spokeswoman noted that the spraying will happen at night, not during the day when children will be out and about.

At least one Upper West Side mom questioned the timing of the spraying.

“I was surprised that it was happening on the first day of school,” said Natalya Murakhver, the mother of a 17-month-old and a 5-year-old. “I have a kindergartner starting school on Wednesday. We’re going to be out first thing Thursday morning and in theory, they’ll have just finished spraying."

A DOHMH spokeswoman said the agency conducts weekly surveillance for West Nile virus activity throughout the city and sprays "carefully delineated areas when the threat to humans is imminent."

She added, "We have been spraying since 1999 and have never seen a reported illness associated with spraying."