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Five more mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus, Suffolk officials say

Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken

Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken provides an update for residents on April 26, 2019 at a press conference in Hauppauge. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Five more mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus, Suffolk County health officials said Thursday.

State health officials told their Suffolk counterparts the five samples were collected Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 in the hamlets of Greenlawn, West Islip, Jamesport and Farmingville. The communities all had at least one mosquito test positive while Farmingville had two, officials said.

There now have been 73 mosquito samples that have tested positive for West Nile, and six which have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis. On Tuesday, Suffolk County health officials announced two cases of West Nile virus in people, the first reported cases of the season. The two cases involved two people older than 50 who live in the town of Islip, officials said.

In Suffolk, the first person with the virus developed symptoms in mid-August and was hospitalized for several days before being released, officials said.

The second person became sick in late August. That person was hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis, which is caused by the West Nile virus. That person has also been discharged, officials said.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. About 20 percent of those who become infected will show clinically noticeable symptoms of West Nile virus, officials said. Some of those symptoms include: fever, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Most people recover completely but fatigue can last for weeks or months, officials said.

People, especially those who are older than 50, or have compromised immune symptoms, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, like wearing insect repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants and avoid going outside from dusk until dawn, officials said.

In a statement, Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said: "We don't want anyone to become ill because of a mosquito bite, so we are urging residents to do what they can to reduce their exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans."

Suffolk County reported 11 human cases in 2018 and seven in 2017.