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36 confirmed cases of West Nile-like virus in New York City

October 2, 1999
Web posted at: 5:33 p.m. EDT (2133 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Thirty-six people in New York City have been confirmed to have the West Nile-like virus that is blamed for the deaths of four of them.

Two other deaths that occurred outside New York City -- one in Westchester County, New York, and the other in Toronto -- are blamed on the disease. In the Canada case, a 75-year-old man died a few days after he visited the New York City borough of Queens, Canadian officials say. That case has not been confirmed by U.S. officials.

Five people remain hospitalized, said Sandra Mullin, spokeswoman for the New York City health department.

The 36th case was a 63-year-old Bronx woman who was discharged in August but whose blood work only now has shown that she had the disease.

  MESSAGE BOARD
Bugs, bugs, bugs
 
  TRANSCRIPT

CNN interview with Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi
 
How to protect yourself:
Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi, associate professor of internal medicine at George Washington University, recommends taking these precautions against encephalitis and other insect-borne diseases:

•Wear long, protective clothing

•Stay inside at dusk and dawn, the times when mosquito bites are most likely

•Use insect repellents containing the active ingredient DEET

•Spray both skin and clothing with the repellent

On Friday night, teams from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health went door to door in northern Queens to enroll people in a survey to determine how widespread the virus is. They expect to collect 300 blood samples over the next two to three weeks.

Symptoms include headache, fever and swollen glands. The virus is rarely fatal, but the very old, the very young and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable.

Until recently, the virus had never been reported in the Western hemisphere.

Ground spraying, using the pesticide resmithrin, resumed in the "hot-zone" area of Queens on Friday night; spraying was to resume in Brooklyn and Manhattan on Saturday night. Traps in two areas have found some mosquitoes carrying the virus. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes that typically feed off birds.



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