Suffolk County Reports a Second Death Associated with West Nile Virus
Another individual with West Nile virus is recovering
Three new mosquito samples test positive for West Nile virus
Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Dr. James Tomarken reported today that New York State has confirmed that an adult who died last month has tested positive for West Nile virus.
The Town of Brookhaven resident, who was over the age of 50, began experiencing symptoms associated with West Nile virus late in August, was subsequently hospitalized, and died in mid-September. The individual was not known to have any underlying health conditions.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the individual’s family,” said Dr. Tomarken.
New York State has also confirmed West Nile virus in an individual who is under the age of 50 and resides in the Town of Babylon. The individual became ill with symptoms consistent with West Nile virus in mid- September, was subsequently hospitalized, and is presently recovering at home.
To date this year, Suffolk County has reported two deaths associated with West Nile virus in Suffolk County among a total of six confirmed cases. Of the six cases, two resided in the Town of Brookhaven, two in the Town of Smithtown, one in the Town of Islip and one in the Town of Babylon.
The number of human cases of West Nile virus varies each year. Suffolk County reported five human cases of West Nile virus in both 2015 and 2016, one case in 2014, and four cases 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. Prior to 2010, the virus claimed two lives in Suffolk County in both 2002 and 2003.
West Nile virus, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The Department of Health Services, in an effort to obtain a more accurate picture of the true incidence and distribution of arthropod-borne disease in the county, conducts surveillance and reports the results to the public. Today, the county reports three new mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus. The samples collected on September 26 from Lindenhurst (1) were of the Culex pipiens-restuans species, and from Islip (1) and East Hampton (1) were of the Culex salinarius species. No mosquito samples tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis this week.
To date this year, 122 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus and four samples have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE). No horses have tested positive for mosquito-borne illness in Suffolk County to date this year.
According to Dr. Tomarken, approximately 20 percent of people who become infected with West Nile virus 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.
Individuals who have medical questions related to West Nile virus may call the Department of Health Services: 631-854-0333.
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.