First case of human West Nile Virus in Erie County confirmed

Oct 4, 2017

The New York State Department of Health has confirmed that an Erie County resident has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus.

“This is our first human case of WNV in Erie County since October 2012,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “The risk of contracting WNV mosquito bite still exists and will continue through the first heavy frost.”

There were 12 cases of West Nile in Erie County in 2012, three in 2011 and nine in 2002, according to the Health Department.

New York State has reported 16 other human West Nile cases through September 16. The virus is contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito, so Burstein said it is important to reduce the risk of mosquito bites until the first heavy frost.

“I want to remind Erie County residents, as we enjoy a warmer than normal fall, mosquitoes will remain a threat until much colder weather arrives," she said. "The key is to minimize mosquito exposure by, limiting outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity (dusk and dawn), covering as much skin as possible with clothing when going outdoors and using an effective insect repellant that contains 25-30 percent DEET on exposed skin. By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of mosquito bites and possibly contracting a mosquito-borne disease like WNV.”

She said although there are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile, only one in five infected people will develop symptoms - and most will recover completely - but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. She said less than 1 percent of infected people will develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis or meningitis.