NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The first cases of mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus were reported in New York City this week, and officials have been reminding people to take precautions.
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported Tuesday, the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the virus was detected in mosquitoes that were found in Flushing, Queens, as well as in Huguenot Beach on Staten Island.
The peak of the mosquito season came July 1. And already, mosquitoes have been feasting on Lupe Navarrete, and she has the bites to prove it.
“We have mosquitoes all around,” said Navarrete, of Flushing.
The Pomonock area of Flushing where Navarrete lives is one of the areas where the infected mosquitoes were found.
“We’ve seen a rise in the number of mosquito infections in folks over 2012, so we do expect more in the summer,” said Sorana Segal-Maurer, chief of infectious disease at New York Hospital Queens.
Segal-Maurer said based on trends, there will likely be more cases this year. And because of Superstorm Sandy, physicians are on alert.
“Anytime you have a major disaster like that with a lot of construction sites in its wake, then you do worry a little bit more,” she said.
Officials at the Health Department said they have been aggressively spraying catch basins. Those that have been treated are marked with blue spray paint, indicating that the first level of treatment has been applied.
From the air, crews also have been treating marshy areas with the goal of eliminating mosquitoes, which catch the virus from birds they bite.
To reduce the risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes the Health Department advised using an insect repellent using picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or products with the active ingredient IR3535. The department also advised making sure that windows have screens that are in good repair; that roof gutters are clean and draining properly; and that swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs are cleaned and chlorinated.
Neighbors in Pomonock were especially heeding the warnings. For Navarrete and her granddaughter, the warnings also mean keeping covered at night.
“At nighttime, I wear long pants so the bugs won’t bite me,” Navarrete said.
Last year, 41 New York City residents were diagnosed with the West Nile virus.
The peak mosquito season is from July through October.
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