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Two Human Cases Of West Nile Virus Reported In Smithtown

Suffolk Health Commissioner Reports Two Human Cases of West Nile Virus

Health Officials remind residents to eliminate standing water on their property

Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken today reported two human cases of West Nile virus in Suffolk County, the first human cases reported this year. Both individuals reside in the Town of Smithtown.

One resident, who is under the age of 50, began experiencing symptoms consistent with West Nile virus disease in mid-August and has fully recovered. Another individual, who is over the age of 55, and began experiencing symptoms in mid-August is currently receiving supportive therapy at a local hospital.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is estimated that 20 percent of those who become infected will develop clinically noticeable symptoms of West Nile virus disease. Mild symptoms may include fever, headache and body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. West Nile virus can be fatal. Residents who experience symptoms are advised to visit their healthcare providers.  While there is no specific treatment for West Nile virus, patients are treated with supportive therapy as needed.

Individuals who are most at risk for severe infection include those over 50 years of age and those with chronic illness or compromised immune systems. These individuals are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes during mosquito season, which extends from June 1 through November 1.

Among the recommendations: use insect repellent containing DEET*, spray clothing with repellent containing permethrin, avoid going outside from dusk to dawn when most mosquitoes are active, wear long sleeves and long pants when nighttime activity is unavoidable, eliminate standing water from flowerpots, clogged gutters, recycle bins, birdbaths, toys, swimming pool and hot tub covers. 

The number of human cases of West Nile virus varies each year. Suffolk County reported five human cases in both 2015 and 2016, one in 2014, and four in both 2011 and 2013. Comparatively, the county reported 14 human cases in 2012 and 25 in 2010, the year in which the virus claimed three lives.  

“There is no discernible trend,” said Dr. 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.”

Individuals who have medical questions related to West Nile virus may call the Department of Health Services: 631-854-0333.

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


"Imminent Threat To Public Health" Mosquito Sample Tests Positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus


Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken today received approval of the county’s request for a declaration of an “Imminent Threat to Public Health” from the New York State Commissioner of Health. This designation will allow the county to address the mosquito issue in areas that would not be accessible without the designation. It will also allow the county to be reimbursed at a greater percentage for its efforts to control mosquitoes that cause disease. The county is in the process of finalizing plans to address this issue next week. Further information will be forthcoming.

The New York State Department of Health informed Suffolk County health officials today that a mosquito sample tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus, also referred to as Triple E.  The sample, Culiseta melanura, was collected on August 16 in the Manorville area.

The presence of EEE in a mosquito sample poses a potential health risk. For this reason, Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken has requested the Health Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health to confirm a declaration of an Imminent Threat to Public Health for Suffolk County. Such designation will permit the county to take steps to control mosquito populations.

Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but deadly illness for humans. The disease is also a concern for horses, though a vaccine is available and recommended for horses. Both Triple E and West Nile virus are transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito.

“The reason EEE is less common in humans is that the primary mosquito vector, Culiseta melanura, does not typically feed on humans,” said Dr. Tomarken. “However, the virus may be transmitted to humans and horses by bridge vectors, which are other kinds of mosquitoes that have contracted the virus by feeding on infected birds.”

Approximately 5 to 10 human cases of EEE are reported annually in the U.S. New York State reported 12 cases of EEE since 1952. To date, there have been no human cases of EEE in Suffolk County.  The last reported positive mosquito for EEE in Suffolk County was in 2008.

In severe cases of EEE a person may experience encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, that may result in death. The mortality rate of those that develop EEE is about 33 percent, the highest among human arboviruses (a virus transmitted by arthropod vectors) cases reported in the U.S. Currently, there is no human vaccine for EEE and patients are treated with supportive care.

Horses are particularly vulnerable if they contract EEE. The equine mortality rate due to EEE ranges from 75 to 90 percent.  In 2016, the USDA reported 118 cases of EEE in horses from 15 states, including two from upstate New York. Suffolk County reported three cases of EEE in horses in 2003.  Owners of equines have an essential role in preventing EEE from spreading. Horse owners are encouraged to vaccinate their animals and put safeguards in place that prevent animals exposure to mosquitoes as well as report any suspicious signs of EEE in animals to a veterinarian.

An additional 16 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus. The samples, all Culex pipiens-restuans, were collected on August 15 and August 16 from Farmingville (1), Port Jefferson Station (1), Setauket (1), North Babylon (1), West Babylon (3), Copiague (1), Lindenhurst (1), Melville (1), Dix Hills (1) East Hampton (1), Huntington (1), Aquebogue (1), and Southold (2).  

To date this year, Suffolk County has reported 92 mosquito samples confirmed positive for West Nile virus and nine birds confirmed positive for West Nile virus.  No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk this year. 

West Nile virus may cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Symptoms may include fever, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, joint pain, and fatigue. There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus. Patients are treated with supportive therapy as needed.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services continues to ask residents to assist in controlling the mosquito population by eliminating standing water on their property.  With the finding of Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus in the county, Dr. Tomarken is asking the public to take steps to be even more vigilant, especially those who live in or visit the Manorville area.

Individuals, especially those aged 50 or over, or those with compromised immune systems, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.  To avoid mosquito bites, residents are advised to:

  • Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitoes are active.
  • Use mosquito repellent, following label directions carefully.
  • Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.
  • Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, discarded tires, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, trash cans and rain barrels.
  • Download a copy of Suffolk County’s informational brochure “Get the Buzz on Mosquito Protection,” available in English and Spanish, and share it with your community.

According to Dr. Tomarken, information regarding measures Suffolk County will take to control mosquito populations will be forthcoming.

Dead birds may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the Public Health Information Line in Suffolk County at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  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.

For further information on mosquito borne illnesses, visit the Department of Health Services’ website athttp://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/HealthServices/PublicHealth/PreventiveServices/ArthropodborneDiseaseProgram/Mosquitoes.aspx



800 Letters Sent To Congressmen King And Zeldin Protesting Cuts In Medicaid

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Staff and Residents Rally to Protest Health Care Cuts

Military veterans at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center use social media to protest Medicaid cuts.Commack, NY – Residents and staff at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center took to social media, traditional snail mail and the local news media recently to protest the drastic cuts to the Medicaid program as initially outlined in the Senate’s proposed American Health Care Act.   

Gurwin staff rallied to pen more than 800 letters, alerting Congressmen Peter King and Lee Zeldin of the devastating consequences the health care bill’s cuts to Medicaid would have on those living in skilled nursing facilities.   Gurwin’s residents, eager to have their voices heard, were interviewed by the local news channels,  and participated in a #NoCutsNoCaps Twitter and Facebook campaign directed at legislators.  The social media campaign visually conveyed the residents’ objections to the $772 billion cuts proposed under the AHCA.   

Gurwin staff rally to decry potential health care cuts for residents.According to Stuart B. Almer, Gurwin’s Administrator/Chief Operating Officer, “Medicaid helps provide funding for vital skilled nursing care to the majority of our long-term care residents at Gurwin.   Our residents, many of them military veterans and retired, hard-working citizens, are at a point in their lives where they require advanced health care that’s just not possible at home.  In fact, at Gurwin we have some recent retirees — having worked well in to their 80s and 90s – who now need skilled nursing care.   It is our duty, and their earned right, to live out their lives comfortably and be well cared for.”