First Human Case of West Nile Virus in Onondaga County for 2017

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta reported today the first case of human West Nile virus infection for 2017 in a child that lives in the City of Syracuse. The child was briefly hospitalized and is expected to make a full recovery. This is the first human case of West Nile virus since 2014.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. Dr. Gupta explained that, “West Nile virus has been found in numerous mosquito traps throughout the county this summer, and is considered to be endemic, or widespread.”

While most people infected with West Nile virus (WNV) do not develop symptoms, 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Severe illness can strike at any age, however, people over 60 years of age and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or who have received organ transplants, are at higher risk. Symptoms of severe illness may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, seizures, paralysis, and coma that could lead to death. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for WNV infection, other than to treat the symptoms and provide supportive care. Consult with your healthcare provider if you are concerned that you have any of these signs or symptoms.

Dr. Gupta continued, “The best way to avoid West Nile Virus infection is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.” Personal protection is recommended during outdoor activities by wearing shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outside. Applying a mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, or IR3535 is also recommended to prevent mosquito bites. Do not allow children to handle repellent. Put a small amount of repellent on your hands and apply it to your child. Do not put insect repellent on your face. Wash skin and clothing after returning indoors. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application.

It is also important to reduce mosquito breeding grounds, thereby reducing the mosquito population:

  • Throw away outdoor containers and ceramic pots that hold water
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors
  • Remove all tires from your property
  • Clean clogged rain gutters and make sure they continue to work properly
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use
  • Change water in bird baths at least every four days
  • Clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds
  • Clean chlorinated swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs
  • Drain water from pool covers
  • Use landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates

The Health Department will continue to post mosquito pool test results every week, please visit for the most recent information. The public may also contact the Division of Environmental Health for more information at (315) 435-1649.

For more information about mosquito-borne diseases visit