Jun 17, 2023

Two West Nile virus cases reported in Suffolk

The Suffolk County health department yesterday reported two human cases of West Nile virus yesterday, the first cases to be reported this season.

A Southampton resident and a Huntington resident, both over the age of 50, became ill with symptoms consistent with West Nile virus and were hospitalized for treatment. They are now recuperating at home, the health department said in a press release.

“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,” Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Gregson Pigott said in a press release yesterday.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. An estimated 20% 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 healthcare providers. While there is no specific treatment for West Nile virus, patients may be offered supportive therapy as needed.

West Nile virus can be fatal.

People age 50 or older and those with chronic illness or compromised immune systems are most at risk for severe infection.

West Nile virus was first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter.

The number of human cases of West Nile virus varies each year, according to the county health department. Nine people have died from West Nile virus in Suffolk since 2000.

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

So far this year, 54 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus, including six new positive mosquito samples announced by the county health department yesterday.

The health department also reported one sample tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus.

Jamestown Canyon virus is found throughout much of the United States, but most cases are reported from the upper Midwest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases occur from late spring through mid-fall. Common symptoms include fever, headache, and fatigue are common symptoms with Jamestown Canyon virus disease. Jamestown Canyon virus can cause severe disease, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). There are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat Jamestown Canyon virus infection.

Mosquitoes can also transmit other diseases, including Eastern equine encephalitis, Chikungunya, Dengue, Zika and malaria.

The most effective way to avoid getting sick from germs spread by mosquitoes is to prevent mosquito bites. Residents are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes during mosquito season, which extends from June 1 through Nov. 1 in this region.

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. Residents should also eliminate standing water from flowerpots, clogged gutters, recycle bins, birdbaths, toys, swimming pool and hot tub covers.

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

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