After reporting 25 human West Nile virus (WNV) cases in 2010 and 14 human cases in 2012, Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services James Tomarken reported today the first and only human case of West Nile virus in Suffolk County in 2014.
The patient is a male over 55 years of age who resides in the Town of Islip. He was hospitalized in late August upon experiencing symptoms consistent with West Nile virus. He has since recovered and returned home.
In 2013, Suffolk County saw four human WNV cases.
“There is no discernable trend,” said Dr. Tomarken. “We know about the cases in which the patient sought treatment and we received laboratory confirmation of West Nile virus,” said Dr. Tomarken. “There may be many more residents who acquired West Nile virus, but we never learned about them because their symptoms were mild and they didn’t seek medical attention or they sought medical attention but lab tests were not ordered.”
Most individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. People that do develop illness will usually have any combination of fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Thesesymptoms generally appear two to 14 days following the bite of an infected mosquito.
Less than one percent of persons exposed to the virus will develop more severe infections, with symptoms such as headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. In rare instances, WNV can be fatal. Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of developing more severe disease. People who are immunocompromised may also be at high risk of WNV infection.
Nationally, 2,002 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC as of Dec. 2. In New York State, 20 cases and one fatality have been reported so far in 2014.
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