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Rosedale mosquito pool tests positive for West Nile

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The West Nile virus has officially hit Queens this summer with the discovery last week of the virus in a mosquito pool in Brookville Park and the death of an elderly Rosedale man who contracted the virus last year.

The city Health Department announced Friday that a mosquito pool in Rosedale’s Brookville Park was the first in the borough to test positive for West Nile this year. Last Thursday, the city announced its first discovery of the virus in the Willowbrook Park area of Staten Island.

“Although no spraying of pesticides is scheduled at this time, this does represent the first finding of West Nile virus in Queens this season,” said Health Department spokeswoman Sandra Mullin in a statement.

“In response, (we are) increasing surveillance of larvae and adult mosquitoes as well as stepping up larviciding activities in the area,” she said.

West Nile, a mosquito-borne virus first found in the Western Hemisphere near College Point in 1999, has spread throughout the country with more than 4,000 cases reported nationwide last year and almost 300 deaths.

The virus infected 29 people in New York City last year, 12 of whom were in Queens. Three victims died citywide from the infection last year, including a 73-year-old Jackson Heights man.

One of those infected last year, an 84-year-old man from Rosedale, died recently after nearly a year in a coma, City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) disclosed in a news release Monday.

“West Nile is a serious threat to my community,” said Sanders, noting the heavy use of Brookville Park by civic groups during the summer. “We must begin plans for all-out preventive action against this deadly disease.”

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden announced July 16 that mosquito activity in the city had increased dramatically in recent weeks, with a rainy spring and hot temperatures at the start of summer boosting mosquito breeding.

Exterminators applied larvicide in Edgemere Park in the Rockaways July 14 to combat increased mosquito activity.

The city’s annual battle against the virus began in earnest June 19 with the larviciding of catch basins in northeast Queens, Gibson said last month in a meeting at Queens Borough Hall.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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