West Nile virus infects 14 in New York

West Nile Virus cases in Queens, New York have increased this summer, with the total number of infected persons now standing at 14.

Officials blame a dry, hot summer for the uptick in West Nile illnesses, the Queens Chronicle reports.

The Department of Health identified the first three cases of West Nile Disease in early August.  Since then, 11 more cases have been identified. This contrasts sharply with last season, when there were only three reported cases total, the Queens Chronicle reports. The 14 people identified to date also mark the highest rate of illness at this point in the season since 2000.   

City officials are urging residents to take several precautions, including wearing insect repellent and long sleeves, eliminating standing water around residences and fixing or installing window screens.  

West Nile Virus is mosquito-borne disease that can affect humans. While not everyone bitten will show symptoms and only one in 150 will develop West Nile virus, the disease can be deadly, particularly among the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. The disease’s emergence in the western hemisphere began in New York in 1999 when 59 people were infected and seven people died.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 258 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus this year, and six people have died.