Great River, NY - September 25, 2013 - Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services James Tomarken reported today the first human case of West Nile virus in Suffolk County in 2013. The individual, who is over 50 years of age and resides in the Town of Brookhaven, was hospitalized for five days at a local hospital in late August upon experiencing symptoms consistent with West Nile virus. The patient has recovered and is now at home.
To date this year, Suffolk County has reported 158 mosquito samples and four birds have tested positive for West Nile virus. No horses have tested positive this year. Last year, Suffolk had 14 human cases of West Nile virus and a total of 210 mosquito samples and 38 birds testing positive for the virus.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death. It is estimated that 20 percent of those who become infected will develop clinically noticeable symptoms of West Nile virus disease. Mild symptoms include fever, headache and body aches, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Residents who experience any of these symptoms are advised to visit their health care providers.
Dr. Tomarken asks residents to reduce the mosquito population around homes by eliminating stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
- Remove all discarded tires on the property.
- Make sure roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Change the water in birdbaths.
- Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and keep shrubs and grass trimmed.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
- Drain water from pool covers.
According to Dr. Tomarken, most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Individuals who are most at risk, especially those over 50 years of age or those with compromised immune systems, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
To avoid mosquito bites:
- Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
- Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are more active.
- Use mosquito repellent when outdoors, following label directions carefully.
- Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.
To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call the Department of Health Services: 631-854-0333.