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Suffolk Health Commissioner Reports First Two Cases of West Nile Virus this Season

Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. Gregson Pigott today reported two cases of West Nile virus in Suffolk County, which are the first ones to be reported this season.

The first individual, who is over the age of 50 and resides in the Town of Southampton, became ill in mid July with symptoms consistent with West Nile virus. The individual was briefly hospitalized and has been recuperating at home.

The second individual, who is over the age of 50 and resides in in the Town of Huntington, became ill in mid August, was hospitalized, and is improving.

“The symptoms of West Nile virus may look like other conditions or health problems, which is why we advise residents who experience symptoms to see a healthcare provider. A lab test is needed to confirm the diagnosis,” said Dr. Pigott.

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 eleven human cases in 2022, eight in 2021, five in 2020, three in 2019, 11 in 2018, and six in 2017. 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.

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.

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