County health departments on Thursday reported Long Island's first two human cases of West Nile virus for the year.
A man older than 55 in the Town of Islip has been hospitalized since late August with West Nile symptoms, said Suffolk health officials, who had no further word on his condition.
And a woman younger than 50 in the Town of Oyster Bay was hospitalized in mid-August and is now recovering at home, said a Nassau health department spokeswoman.
Last year Nassau had four reported human cases of West Nile and no deaths, with Suffolk reporting one case and no deaths.
In some cases, the virus causes serious neurological illnesses that can lead to permanent conditions or death. 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.
Mild symptoms can include fever, headache and body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands, said Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk's commissioner of health services. More severe cases can include neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, he said.
Some mosquitoes can transmit West Nile to humans, with the insects picking up the virus by feeding on infected birds.
As for mosquito samples that have tested positive this year for the virus, there have been 47 in Nassau, and 127 in Suffolk, where 10 birds also tested positive, officials said.
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.