A fifth human case of West Nile virus was reported Thursday by Suffolk County health officials, bringing to 14 the number of cases this year on Long Island, where no deaths have been reported.
Suffolk's most recent case involves a Town of Brookhaven man over 55 years old whose symptoms started Sept. 27. The man was hospitalized for about two weeks, then released, health officials said in a Thursday news release.
There could be further cases, those in which symptoms were mild or lab tests not ordered, said Dr. James Tomarken, county health services commissioner. "We know only about the cases in which the patient sought treatment and we received laboratory confirmation of West Nile virus."
Nassau has had nine confirmed human cases this year, and no deaths, a health department spokeswoman said on Thursday.
In some instances, the virus causes serious neurological illnesses that can lead to permanent conditions, including death. Some mosquito bites can transmit West Nile to humans, with mosquitoes picking up the virus by feeding on infected birds.
Last year, 2,205 West Nile cases in humans were reported in the United States, resulting in 97 deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nassau had four reported human cases of West Nile last year, while Suffolk reported one case. There were no deaths last year in either county.