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Suffolk mosquito sample tests positive for West Nile virus

A mosquito sample taken in Suffolk County tested positive for West Nile virus, county officials said Tuesday.

It was the first mosquito sample to test positive for the virus this year. The sample, a Culex pipiens-restuans, was collected on June 28, 2017 in Melville, county health officials said.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples or birds indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” said Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken in a news release, adding “there is no cause for alarm.”

West Nile virus, which was first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and annually since, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

While most people with the virus will experience mild or no symptoms, some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, according to Tomarken.

Individuals, especially those age 50 or older or those with compromised immune systems are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, county health officials said.

To report dead birds, which may indicate the presence of the virus in the area, call the Public Health Information Line in Suffolk County. Residents are encouraged to take a photograph of any bird in question.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 631-852-4270.