With 26 new mosquito samples testing positive for West Nile virus, the total for the year is now up to 46 in Suffolk County, health officials reported on Friday.

The new samples, all Culex pipiens-restuans, were collected July 29 from Nesconset, West Islip, East Northport, Northport, Huntington Station, Lindenhurst, West Babylon, Selden, Port Jefferson, North Babylon, Greenlawn and Farmingville.

Four birds also have tested positive for the virus, with the most recent collected July 31 in Port Jefferson.

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Eight positive mosquito samples have been reported in Nassau County, a health department spokeswoman said.

Some mosquito bites can transmit West Nile to humans, with mosquitoes picking up the virus by feeding on infected birds.

"The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples or birds indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area," said Dr. James L. Tomarken, county health services commissioner.

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"While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans."

In some cases, the virus causes serious neurological illnesses that can lead to health conditions or death.

Nassau had four reported human cases of West Nile and no deaths last year, with Suffolk reporting one case and no deaths.

Last year, 2,205 cases of human infection were reported in the United States, resulting in 97 deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Residents are advised to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed in and around their homes; to minimize outdoor activities and cover their skin in the evening and night when mosquitoes are most active; and to use mosquito repellent outdoors.

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Learn more at http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/HealthServices/PublicHealth/PreventiveServices/ArthropodborneDiseaseProgram/PreventingMosquitoBorneIllnesses.aspx