Health Officials remind residents to eliminate
standing water on their property
Suffolk County Commissioner of
Health Services Dr. James Tomarken today reported two human cases of West Nile
virus in Suffolk County, the first human cases reported this year. Both
individuals reside in the Town of Smithtown.
One resident, who is under the
age of 50, began experiencing symptoms consistent with West Nile virus disease in
mid-August and has fully recovered. Another individual, who is over the age of
55, and began experiencing symptoms in mid-August is currently receiving
supportive therapy at a local hospital.
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 are
treated with 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. These individuals are urged to take
precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes during mosquito season, which extends
from June 1 through November 1.
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 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 both
2015 and 2016, one in 2014, and four in both 2011 and 2013. Comparatively, the
county reported 14 human cases in 2012 and 25 in 2010, the 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
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.