This week the New York City Health Department will spray dozens of Upper East Side blocks with pesticide to reduce mosquito activity on the UES and hopefully the risk posed by West Nile Virus— which is spread through mosquito bites— after a summer where record levels of the infected insects were found across the five boroughs.
So far this year, the Health Department says it has not found infected mosquitos on the Upper East Side, however, it has found them in Central Park and in East Harlem, which surround half of the neighborhood.
Starting at 8:30 pm Thursday night through 6:00 am Friday morning, crews from the NYC Department of Health using a fleet of trucks to spray pesticides west of Park Avenue, from 57th Street stretching all the way to the top of Manhattan.
Low concentrations of pesticides are being used and pose a low risk of poisoning people or pets, according to health officials.
However, the agency adds that people who are sensitive to the chemicals used may experience throat or eye irritation, even a rash. The pesticide could also affect New Yorkers with respiratory conditions, officials say.
The Health Department recommends Upper East Siders stay inside with their windows closed while the trucks are spraying the pesticides. They add that air conditioner can stay on and don’t need to be set to recirculate air from within a home.
If you do go outside, experts say it is best to wash your hands and any clothes exposed to the pesticide.
A concern since first arriving in New York City in 1999, West Nile Virus outbreaks remain a risk each year from May through October. In August, the NYC Department of Health announced that a record 1,068 groups of mosquitos tested for the virus were found to be infected this year, a 37% increase over the same time last year.
Most people infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms or only mild to moderate illness, however, public health experts say those over 60-years-old or that have weakened immune systems are more likely to get severely sick.
Symptoms of the virus, including fever, weakness and headaches, appear three to fifteen days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and cannot be spread by casual person-to-person contact.
In rare cases, experts say West Nile Virus can cause infections of the brain and spine, includingencephalitis, meningitis and even paralysis. There is no treatment available for the virus.
In the event of rain on Thursday night, pesticide spraying will be delayed until Monday, September 19th.