Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

October 12, 2018
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert today confirmed the season's first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in a county resident. The patient is over the age of 50 years and tested positive for the illness based on clinical symptoms and preliminary laboratory findings. The individual was hospitalized on August 29 and discharged from the hospital on September 4.

"This human case of West Nile virus reinforces the urgency of the need for people to protect themselves against mosquito bites and to continue to check their property and get rid of standing water around their properties where mosquitoes breed," said Dr. Ruppert.

Though most mosquitoes are not infected with disease-causing viruses, a bite from an infected mosquito can spread West Nile virus, an infection that can cause serious illness, and in some cases, death. Although a person's chances of getting sick are small, those 50 and older are at highest risk for serious illness.

You can reduce the risk of being bitten in the following ways:

  • Cover-up as completely as possible. Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods or when mosquitoes are more active.
  • Use mosquito repellent, which should always be applied according to label directions. Do not use repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Cover baby carriers with mosquito netting when outside.
  • Stay indoors when mosquitoes are more active.
  • Close doors and make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that the screens do not have rips, tears or holes.

Most people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms. About 20 percent of the people who become infected will develop West Nile fever and have mild symptoms, including fever, headache and body aches, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. The symptoms of severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and coma. About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop the more severe form of the disease. Usually, symptoms occur from 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. There is no specific treatment for viral infections, other than to treat the symptoms and provide supportive care. If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, see your doctor right away.

Even the smallest amount of standing water can serve as a breeding site for mosquitoes. They lay eggs in these sites and their offspring "grow up" in water before emerging as adults that fly and bite. Take these steps to reduce mosquitoes around your home and yard:

  • Check your property for ANY items that can hold water. Get rid of the items or empty the water out and scrub the inside of the item at least once a week.
  • Drill drain holes in the bottoms of recycling containers, turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use, and remove all discarded tires.
  • If you have a swimming pool or spa that is not in use, drain the water off the cover or treat this standing water with Mosquito Dunks®. The dunks are available free of charge at the Health Department, Building D, 50 Sanatorium Road in Pomona, Monday - Friday from 9 am to 4 pm, while supplies last.
  • Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Use an outdoor flying insect spray where mosquitoes rest. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture, or under the carport or garage. When using insecticides, always follow label instructions.
  • If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes. Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Make sure that roof gutters drain properly, clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds, and remove leaf debris from yards and gardens.

As of October 4, there have been 57 reported human cases of West Nile virus in New York State this season: Albany 2, Broome 1, Dutchess 1, Erie 1, Genessee 1, Livingston 1, Monroe 6, Nassau 6, NYC 28, Onondaga 2, Rensselear 1, Suffolk 4, Ulster 1, and Westchester 2.

For more information visit or call the Health Department at 845-364-3173. More information about WNV is also available on the New York State Department of Health website at