A Huntington resident developed Suffolk County’s first case of West Nile this season but has since recovered, the county Department of Health Services said.
Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. Gregson Pigott identified the individual as over the age of 50.
The individual, who is over the age of 50 and resides in the Town of Huntington, became ill in August with symptoms consistent with West Nile virus disease, sought medical care, and has since recovered.
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. 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. Suffolk County residents are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes during mosquito season, from June 1 through Nov. 1.
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, eliminate standing water from flowerpots, clogged gutters, recycle bins, birdbaths, toys, swimming pool and hot tub covers.
The number of human cases of West Nile virus varies each year. Suffolk County reported five human cases in 2020, three in 2019, and 11 in 2018. Comparatively, the county reported 25 human cases in 2010, a year in which the virus claimed three lives. Suffolk County also reported two deaths from West Nile virus in 2017.
“There is no discernible trend,” Pigott said. “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 they didn’t seek medical attention or they sought attention but lab tests weren’t ordered.”
For information about West Nile virus, visit the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ website