West Nile virus in Islip Town

File photo.

West Nile virus in Islip Town

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
10/8/2015


Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken reported three new human cases of West Nile virus. 

Two new cases of the West Nile virus have been reported. One was in an adult male under 55 years of age who resides in the Town of Islip. He began experiencing symptoms on Aug. 24. Another case was a woman under age 55 who is also from the Town of Islip who began experiencing symptoms on Sept. 7. These individuals visited their healthcare professional, but did not need to be hospitalized. Both have recovered.

The third new case, an adult male under 55 years of age who resides in the Town of Islip, began experiencing symptoms consistent with West Nile virus on Sept. 18. He was hospitalized for a week and is currently recovering at home.

On Sept. 10, the commissioner reported this year’s first case of West Nile virus in Suffolk County. That case, a male over 55 years of age who resides in the Town of Islip, was admitted to a local hospital in late August upon experiencing symptoms of the virus. The patient remains in the hospital at this time and his condition is improving. 

To date, the total number of human cases of West Nile virus in Suffolk County this year is four. 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: 854-0333.

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