Suffolk County is reporting its first West Nile case this year, a person from Huntington who remains hospitalized with the disease.
The Suffolk case is in addition to eight cases so far this year in Nassau County, according to Nassau County spokesman Christopher Boyle.
The person from Huntington, whose gender wasn’t specified and is more than 50 years old, was hospitalized in late August, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services reported Friday afternoon.
People over 50 are at highest risk of severe infection, as are people with chronic illness and compromised immune systems, Suffolk health officials said in a news release.
Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott emphasized in a statement that “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.”
West Nile is transmitted by the bites of infected mosquitoes. About 20% of those bitten will develop symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches and, in severe cases, stupor, disorientation, tremors, vision loss, numbness or coma. The disease can be fatal.
Last year, there were eight cases in Suffolk and six in Nassau, officials in the two counties said. The last death in Nassau was in 2019, and there were two deaths in Suffolk in 2017. The largest number of cases in recent years was in 2018, when there were 14 cases in Nassau and 11 in Suffolk.
Health officials urged residents to use mosquito repellent during mosquito season, which goes until Nov. 1. Residents also should either avoid going out from dusk to dawn, or wear long pants and long sleeves. Standing water should be removed from pools, gutters and other objects.