A Brookhaven Town resident has been diagnosed with West Nile virus, the eighth Suffolk County resident to contract the mosquito-borne illness this year, according to county Health Department officials.
The latest patient, identified as over the age of 55, was hospitalized with West Nile symptoms and is recovering at home, officials said.
“There is no discernible trend,” said Suffolk Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken. “We know only about the cases in which the patient sought treatment and we received laboratory confirmation of West Nile virus. There may be many more residents who acquired West Nile virus, but we never learned about them because they didn’t seek medical attention or they sought attention but lab tests weren’t ordered.”
The seven previously reported cases in 2018 were from the towns of Islip, Huntington, Smithtown, Brookhaven, Southold and Babylon.
Nassau has reported a total of 11 human cases with no deaths, a county health official said.
West Nile is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. An estimated 20 percent of people who become infected will develop symptoms of the disease, Health Department officials said.
The virus' mild symptoms can be fever, headache and body aches, a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms in more severe cases can include high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
Individuals most at risk for severe infection include those over the age of 55 and those with chronic illness or compromised immune systems. Residents are encouraged to remove standing water where mosquitoes could breed and to seek medical treatment if they experience symptoms, Tomarken said.
Suffolk County reported seven human cases in 2017; five in both 2016 and 2015; one in 2014; and four in both 2011 and 2013. The county reported 14 human cases in 2012 and 25 in 2010, when three people died.
Mosquito season began June 1 and ended Nov. 1.
For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call the Suffolk Department of Health Services’ Division of Public Health at 631-854-0333.