St. Barnabas doctor lays out tips to prevent West Nile

Though infections of the West Nile virus in New York City are on the rise, a doctor in the Bronx said there’s no need to panic.

“It’s under control,” said Dr. Ernest Patti, the senior attending physician of emergency medicine at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. “The city has been very good at doing city surveillance and spraying.”

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been spraying a liquid insecticide in residential areas of New York every year since 1999. The department has a routine, year-round mosquito management program that works to manage the mosquito populations through public education, mosquito surveillance and larvae control.

Victims of the virus often begin experiencing signs similar to other viral infections, including abdominal pain, fever and nausea. As the virus advances, some patients develop muscle weakness and are given a ventilator, as well as receiving the regular treatment of IV fluids and pain medication.

The virus can invade the body with only one bite, and Dr. Patti said that when venturing outside at dusk it’s important to wear long-sleeve shirts and to apply insect repellent with DEET in it, which is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. The virus is only spread by being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus, and it cannot spread by person-to-person contact.

“We’ve had cases here every year,” Dr. Patti said. “We’ve run the gamut from pediatrics to adults but its definitely more frequent this year than in the past.”

As a precaution, eliminate standing water around the house. Check gutters, pots and children’s toys left outside. To report standing water in construction sites, unmaintained lots, etc. residents may report it to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene by calling 311. Bronx West Nile cases by the numbers: 2011 – 2, 2010 – 7, 2009 – 1, 2008- 1, 2007 – 2, 2006 – 1, 2005 – 3, 2004 – 0, 2003 – 6, 2002 – 9, 2001 – 0,

More from Around NYC