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By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

New York City health officials have reported the first human West Nile virus (WNV) cases of the 2019 season.

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The four cases were reported from Queens (2), Staten Island and Brooklyn. Two people were discharged from the hospital, and two remain hospitalized.

Human cases of West Nile virus occur each year in New York City, with most identified between late July and October. The amount of West Nile virus activity varies every year.

“The findings from our mosquito and human surveillance serve as a reminder for all New Yorkers that they should take simple precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Actions such as wearing mosquito repellent, covering arms and legs when outdoors, discarding standing water, and installing window screens can reduce the human transmission of West Nile virus and save lives.”

The West Nile virus was first detected in New York City 20 years ago. Since 1999, the number of human cases has ranged from three to 47 annually. Thirty-six New Yorkers were diagnosed with West Nile virus during the 2018 season. Of the 422 New Yorkers diagnosed with West Nile virus since 1999, 46 (11%) have died due to their infection.

In people over 50 or with a weakened immune system, West Nile virus can cause severe illness, including meningitis and encephalitis, sometimes resulting in permanent or long-term complications such as muscle weakness, fatigue, confusion and depression. Others may experience milder symptoms, which include headache, fever, fatigue, and rash.