NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Three cases of West Nile virus have now been confirmed on Long Island.
Two of the patients who have been hospitalized for West Nile virus are from Suffolk County while the third is from Nassau County.
A 55-year-old Huntington resident was sent to the hospital earlier this month after experiencing symptoms of the virus, Suffolk County health officials said Thursday. That person is now recovering at home.
Health officials confirmed the first case of West Nile in Suffolk County on Aug. 6 when a Babylon resident was hospitalized. That person has since recovered.
A woman from Oyster Bay become Nassau County’s first resident to be hospitalized for West Nile virus, county health officials said Wednesday. She is now recovering.
Federal health officials say the current West Nile outbreak is one of the largest in the U.S., with four times the usual number of cases for this time of year.
So far, 1,118 illnesses have been reported nationwide, about half of them in Texas. That’s the most ever by this time of year according to health officials. Normally, fewer than 300 cases are reported by mid-August.
There have also been 41 deaths this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cases seem to be accelerating, with about 400 of the cases reported in the last week, but experts say the worst may be yet to come.
“Eighty percent of our cases occur between August and September, so we’re just still at the beginning of understanding how this is going to play out,” said Dr. Kristy Murray with the Baylor College of Medicine.
In the Tri-State area, one case has been reported in New Jersey, two in Conn., 10 in New York and now three cases on Long Island. There has also been one death in upstate New York.
Most of those infected show no symptoms, but about one in 150 patients become seriously ill. Of those, some 60 percent have long-term effects including fatigue, blurred vision, trouble thinking, kidney disease and even paralysis.
“I just collapsed. I couldn’t walk hardly, I couldn’t stand up,” said West Nile virus victim John Shaw.
Shaw, 59, spent two weeks in the intensive care unit after he contracted West Nile virus in 2005. Seven years later, he still suffers from leg paralysis.
Experts think the mild winter, early spring and very hot summer helped stimulate mosquito breeding and the spread of the virus.
To help eliminate mosquito breeding and prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, health officials have the following tips:
- Remove or empty standing water from children’s outdoor toys, flower pots, garbage cans, pails, or any object that can hold water.
- Make sure roof gutters drain properly.
- Keep swimming pools chlorinated and their covers free of stagnant water.
- Change the water in birdbaths every two or three days.
- Install window and door screens and keep them in good repair.
- Consider wearing long sleeves, pants, socks and mosquito repellent (according to directions) if outdoors when mosquitoes are active, especially in the late afternoon and evening hours.
- Decorative ponds and water features should be circulated or chlorinated if they do not contain fish to prevent mosquito breeding.
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