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Suffolk health officials report first human case of West Nile Virus and more positive mosquito samples

Fifteen new mosquito samples in Suffolk County have tested positive for West Nile virus, the county health department announced yesterday.

The samples were collected between Sept. 3 and 9 from a dozen locations across the county, including Aquebogue, Jamesport and Southold.

The announcement comes two days after the health department disclosed that a Babylon resident has been hospitalized since Aug. 19 “with symptoms consistent with West Nile virus fever.” The individual is over the age of 55, the agency said, but provided no additional information about his or her condition.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Health officials estimate 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 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 Nov. 1.

To date this year, the county has reported that one horse, 132 mosquito samples and 10 birds tested positive for West Nile Virus.

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

Residents are urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites:

Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitoes are active.
Use mosquito repellent, following label directions carefully.
Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.

Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, discarded tires, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, trash cans and rain barrels.

Download a copy of Suffolk County’s informational brochure “Get the Buzz on Mosquito Protection,” available in English and Spanish, and share it with your community.

Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the Public Health Information Line in Suffolk County at 631-852-5999 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residents are encouraged to take a photograph of any bird in question.

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

For further information on West Nile virus, visit the health department’s website.

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