© 2022 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Local News

West Nile Alert: How To Avoid Mosquito-Related Illness

Photo via Flickr//James Jordan

  The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County has received notification of a probable case of West Nile virus infection in a county resident.

County Health Director Dr. John Lanza says this is the third consecutive year that a resident’s been bitten by an infected mosquito – in this case, mid-July, with the lab results confirming the disease were returned earlier this month.

Lanza is quick to add that West Nile is always present in the county. Weather conditions, heat, rainfall and other factors make it more likely to develop cases in this area from July through about the first of November. The severity of West Nile symptoms cover a wide range in humans, and Lanza says they’re generally similar to those of EEE – Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

“Fever, headache, delirium, body aches and pains, seizures, coma and sometimes in the worst case, death,” said Lanza. There is no treatment for any viral, mosquito-borne disease. You just treat symptoms.”

Up to 80% of people infected with West Nile won't show any symptoms, according to the CDC.

Escambia County Mosquito Control and the Department of Health are continuing surveillance and prevention efforts.  They – along with the CDC – are reminding everyone to avoid mosquito bites, and to take basic precautions to help limit exposure to the pests – beginning with standing water.

“And I can take care of that problem very simply,” Betts said. “I search out where the problem is and dump it. I don’t have to put chemicals in the air, I don’t have to put chemicals in the water. I just go out and dump those containers.”

Besides drain and cover, other tips include keeping screens on doors and windows, wearing long pants and sleeves in areas where mosquitoes are present, using repellent containing DEET, mosquito netting to protect children younger than two months old, and avoid going out at dawn and dusk, the most likely time when mosquitoes feed.