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Fifth person diagnosed with West Nile virus, Suffolk health officials say

A culex pipiens, one of the mosquitos that

A culex pipiens, one of the mosquitos that transmits West Nile virus and lives on Long Island. Credit: USGS

Suffolk County health officials said a Brookhaven resident was the fifth person in the county to be diagnosed this year with West Nile virus.

The resident, who is older than 50 with underlying health conditions, was sickened with West Nile in early September and is almost fully recovered without hospitalization, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said in a statement.

The mosquito-transmitted virus infected other residents this year in Huntington, Brookhaven and Babylon, including two residents under 50.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Adults older than 50 and with chronic illness or immune compromised are more are risk for symptoms of the virus and are urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

The mosquito season generally runs from June through Nov. 1.

There were three West Nile infections in 2019 and 11 in 2018 and two deaths in 2017, compared to 25 cases and three deaths at the height of the virus in 2010.

Health officials said about 20% of those infected with West Nile will show symptoms including fever, headaches, body aches, a rash and swollen lymph glands.

Severe symptoms can include a higher fever, stiffness, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness or paralysis. It can also lead to a coma or death.

Any residents who show symptoms are urged to see their doctors. There is no treatment for West Nile but can symptoms can be addressed with supportive therapy, officials said.

"Mosquito season ends on Nov. 1, but the fall is a perfect time to repair screens, clean yards, and make solid plans to reduce the number areas where mosquitoes can breed around your home," Pigott said in a statement.

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