Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services James Tomarken reported today a new human case of West Nile virus in Suffolk County.
A male over 55 years of age from the Town of Brookhaven began experiencing symptoms consistent with West Nile virus on September 27, 2015. He was hospitalized for approximately two weeks and then released.
During late August and September, four other Suffolk County residents, one over age 55 and three under age 55, were diagnosed with West Nile virus. Each of the four was from the Town of Islip.
To date, there have been five human cases of West Nile virus in Suffolk County. The number of human cases of West Nile virus varies each year. Suffolk County reported one human case of West Nile virus in 2014 and four cases in both 2011 and 2013, as compared to 14 human cases in 2012 and 25 cases 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 their symptoms were mild and they didn’t seek medical attention or they sought medical attention but lab tests were not ordered.”
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.
Individuals who have medical questions related to West Nile virus may call the Department of Health Services: 631-854-0333.
To learn more about Suffolk County’s Mosquito-borne-Illness surveillance program, view the following videos: