First Human Case of West Nile Virus in Onondaga County for 2019

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta announced today that the first case of human West Nile virus infection for 2019 was reported in an adult residing in the town of Salina. The patient is still hospitalized and in stable condition.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and is considered to be endemic in Central New York. Dr. Gupta explained that, “Mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found in mosquito traps in the town of Salina and nearby areas this summer.”

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, 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. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms.

Dr. Gupta continued, “It takes only one infected mosquito to transmit infection to humans. Even though the numbers of mosquitoes have decreased, it is important to continue protecting yourself from mosquito bites to avoid WNV infection.” Personal protection is recommended during outdoor activities by wearing shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Applying a mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone is also recommended to prevent mosquito bites. Do not put the repellent on your face or directly onto children; put it on your hands and apply it to your child. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application.

It is also important to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home:

  • Throw away outdoor containers, ceramic pots or containers that hold water
  • 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
  • Clean chlorinated swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs
  • Use landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates

The Onondaga County Health Department remains in close contact with the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. For the weekly mosquito pool test results and for more information about personal protection measures against mosquitoes, visit or contact the Onondaga County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health at 315.435.1649.