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Watch for bug bites

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Residents in central Brooklyn are being warned this week to protect themselves from mosquitoes infected with the West Nile Virus.

So far, three mosquito pools in Brooklyn have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

Those residing in zip codes 11203 (East Flatbush), 11207 (East New York) and 11210 (Midwood) zip codes are most directly affected, according to the New York City Health Department.

Officials urge neighbors in these areas to clear standing water from around their homes, make sure screens in doors and windows are in good shape and to use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus when venturing outside.

State Senator Kevin Parker urged his constituents to take the necessary precautions.

“We need to track it, combat it, and be mindful of this virus’s effect, especially during the summer months, to protect you and your family from the virus,” Parker said.

The first indication this year that West Nile Virus had returned to the city came in July when mosquitoes from Ferry Point Park in the Bronx were found to be infected.

Last week, the city started spraying pesticides in Queens in an effort to kill infected mosquitoes there.

Health Department officials say there are no immediate plans to spray in Brooklyn.

The city is endeavoring to decrease the number of adult mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sites whenever possible and applying larvicides to areas of standing water that cannot be drained completely.

The application of pesticides is concentrated in areas most at risk for West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus has reappeared in New York City every year since 1999 when the Big Apple experienced an unprecedented outbreak of encephalitis caused by West Nile Virus.

Over the years, 24 people citywide have died as a result of the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about one in 150 people infected with West Nile Virus will actually develop a severe illness.

While the discovery of West Nile Virus in Brooklyn is cause for concern, officials point out that at this same time last year, a total of 20 mosquito pools in the borough actually tested positive for West Nile Virus.

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