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First Human Cases of West Nile Virus this Year

Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken reported today three human cases of West Nile virus in Suffolk County this year.  These are the first human cases to be reported this year in Suffolk County.

One resident, who is under the age of 50 and resides in the Town of Brookhaven, was hospitalized with symptoms consistent with West Nile virus disease in late August and was later released.

Another resident, who is over 50 years of age and resides in the Town of Islip,  was admitted to a local hospital in late August after experiencing symptoms consistent with West Nile virus and has since been released.

A third resident, who is over 50 years of age and resides in the Town of Smithtown, was admitted to a local hospital in September after experiencing symptoms consistent with West Nile virus and has also been released.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is estimated that 20 percent of those who become infected will develop clinically noticeable symptoms of West Nile virus disease. Mild symptoms may include fever, headache and body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Residents who experience symptoms are advised to visit their health-care providers.

West Nile virus can be fatal. Individuals who are most at risk for severe infection include those over 50 years of age and those with chronic illness or compromised immune systems. These individuals are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes during the season.

Among the recommendations: use insect repellent containing DEET*, spray clothing with repellent containing permethrin, avoid going outside from dusk to dawn when most mosquitoes are active, wear long sleeves and long pants when nighttime activity is unavoidable, eliminate standing water from flower pots, clogged gutters, recycle bins, birdbaths, toys, swimming pool and hot tub covers.  Mosquito season extends from June 1 through November 1.

The number of human cases of West Nile virus varies each year. Suffolk County reported five human cases in 2015, one in 2014, and four in both 2011 and 2013. Comparatively, the county reported 14 human cases in 2012 and 25 in 2010, a year in which the virus claimed three lives.  

“There is no discernible trend,” said Dr. Tomarken. “We know only about the cases in which the patient sought treatment and we received laboratory confirmation of West Nile virus. There may be many more residents who acquired West Nile virus, but we never learned about them because they didn’t seek medical attention or they sought attention but lab tests weren’t ordered.”

Individuals who have medical questions related to West Nile virus may call the Department of Health Services: 631-854-0333.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.

To learn how to stop mosquitoes from breeding in your yard, view the following video:


*Follow label instructions. Consult healthcare provider before using insect repellent on young children.

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