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Bayside man, 75, stricken with West Nile virus

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An elderly Bayside man has become the first person in Queens this year to be infected with the West Nile virus, the city Health Department announced Wednesday.

The 75-year-old man began showing symptoms of the virus on Aug. 14, the

Health Department said. The man, whose name was not released, is the second city resident so far in 2001 to become infected and one of only a handful nationwide to be identified with the virus this summer. It was widely reported that an Atlanta woman infected with West Nile had died last week.

The Bayside man's illness prompted the city Health Department to plan to begin pesticide spraying in Auburndale and Bayside Friday night and into Saturday morning.

The virus was identified in birds and mosquitoes in Bellerose in July, but at the time the Health Department chose to engage in a larviciding campaign to kill off infant mosquitoes.

The Bayside man was hospitalized a few days after his illness was diagnosed.

The West Nile virus was first identified in the Western Hemisphere in August 1999, when infected residents from the Powell's Cove section of Queens were discovered by an alert doctor at Flushing Hospital.

The virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes who transfer it to from infected birds. In 1999, four people died of West Nile in Queens and dozens throughout the city were sickened.

West Nile virus produces flu-like symptoms including achiness, fever, sore joints, muscle pain and headaches. Young children and the elderly are

especially susceptible to the illness.

The city Health Department said Wednesday it plans to spray in northeast Queens from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday morning, weather permitted.

Areas to be sprayed as of presstime include the ZIP codes 11358, 11361,

11364, 1365, the Health Department said.

Other areas to be sprayed Friday night include: Kissena Park and Golf Course, Flushing Cemetery, St. Mary's Cemetery, Cunningham Park, Alley Pond Park and Crocheron/John Golden Park. The spraying was to take place from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday, while spraying in residential areas was

slated to begin after midnight Saturday.

Those residential areas include: Crocheron Avenue and 35th Avenue, 223rd Street to 56th Avenue to the LIE and Underhill Avenue and Utopia Parkway.

The city sparked controversy in 1999 when it chose the insecticide malathion to reduce the mosquito population and combat the spread of the virus. Prior to 1999 the city's insecticide campaign had been negligible.

In 2000 and 2001 the Health Department strove to focus prevention as a way to fight West Nile and began targeting larvae to curb the mosquito

population.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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