West Nile virus back on LI

An undated file photo of a mosquito, a An undated file photo of a mosquito, a carrier for the potentially lethal virus West Nile. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The West Nile virus has been discovered again on Long Island this year, health department officials said Monday.

State and Suffolk health department officials confirmed that a mosquito sample taken from Gardiner County Park in Islip on June 20 and a dead crow picked up in Northport on June 27 both tested positive for the virus.

"The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population," said Dr. James L. Tomarken, Suffolk Health Services commissioner. "While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which can be debilitating to humans."

Mary Ellen Laurain, a spokeswoman for the Nassau Health Department, said Monday, "We have been sampling since May, but we have had no positive samplings at this point."

The virus, transmitted to people by mosquito bites, was first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk in 1999, and has been found in tests on Long Island every year since then.

By December 2011, four Suffolk residents were reported infected with the disease that year, and in Nassau, there were 16 confirmed cases, including a 70-year-old man who died.

Tomarken said most people infected with the virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but in some severe cases the symptoms could include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

Health officials advise residents to eliminate stagnant water around their homes, where mosquitoes breed.

To report dead birds in Suffolk that may indicate the presence of West Nile virus, call 631-787-2200, officials said. To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools in Suffolk, call 631-852-4270. More information is available at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/health.

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