Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. Gregson Pigott today reported one human case of West Nile virus in Suffolk County, the first case reported this season.
The individual, who is over the age of 50 and resides in the Town of Huntington, became ill in August with symptoms consistent with West Nile virus disease, sought medical care, and has since recovered.
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. West Nile virus can be fatal. Residents who experience symptoms are advised to visit their healthcare providers. While there is no specific treatment for West Nile virus, patients may be offered supportive therapy as needed.
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. Suffolk County residents are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes during mosquito season, which extends from June 1 through November 1.
To avoid mosquito bites, 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 flowerpots, clogged gutters, recycle bins, birdbaths, toys, swimming pool and hot tub covers.
The number of human cases of West Nile virus varies each year. Suffolk County reported five human cases in 2020, three in 2019, and 11 in 2018. Comparatively, the county reported 25 human cases in 2010, a year in which the virus claimed three lives. Suffolk County also reported two deaths from West Nile virus in 2017.
“There is no discernible trend,” said Dr. Pigott. “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.”
For information about West Nile virus, visit the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ website
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.
*Follow label instructions. Consult healthcare provider before using insect repellent on young children.