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A 60-year-old man recently died from West Nile virus in Queens, which city tests indicated is home to the most mosquitoes that carry the virus in all of the five boroughs, and the city is currently testing a woman who might be from Middle Village for the virus.
The city Department of Health would not release where and when the man was infected, citing patient confidentiality, but only said he contracted the virus in mid-August and died sometime later.
The DOH said the details of the man’s neighborhood in Queens or where he likely contracted the virus would not be released in the future.
State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) said the city would not confirm a woman from Middle Village was infected with the virus, but his office was working to confirm the case.
“Recently, my office was alerted to a potential case of West Nile virus in Queens,” he said. “My office will continue to work with the Department of Health to monitor this situation closely.”
Mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus have been identified in virtually every corner of the borough in 2011, according to the DOH website.
The DOH runs weekly tests on mosquitoes collected from 90 locations throughout the city. But compared to other boroughs, Queens is buzzing with the infected insects.
Out of 179 infected insects found throughout the city, 88 of them were from Queens, which translates to nearly half.
Staten Island came in second with 51 of the blood-suckers and Brooklyn third with 30.
At a civic meeting in Middle Village last Thursday night, rumors swirled that a resident from the neighborhood was recently infected with the virus, which resulted in some degree of paralysis.
The rumors could not be independently confirmed by press time and the neighborhood did not appear on the city’s list of areas where infected mosquitoes were found, but the DOH had made the decision to spray Middle Village with insecticide, according to staff from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s (D-Middle Village) office.
The news of the death and of the possibly infected Middle Village resident came just a week after an 86-year-old Whitestone man found out he had the virus and blamed it on an unkempt abandoned lot near his house.
So far this year, there has been just one case of West Nile Fever in the borough but four cases of the more-serious West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease, which can attack the brain and spinal cord, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website. Less than 1 percent of people infected with the virus develop serious illness, but among those who do, fatalities range from 3 percent to 15 percent, according to the CDC.
Last year there was only one death in the entire city from West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease.
The city advised residents to be cautious, especially those over 50, who are more prone to becoming ill from the virus.
The DOH also urged every resident to use insect repellent, cover bare skin when outside and stay indoors during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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