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Local News

Cooler Weather But Mosquitoes Still Pose A Threat

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Photo via Flickr//James Jordan
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The calendar may say fall, but the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County is out with a reminder that a mosquito-borne illness alert remains in effect. Residents and visitors are advised to take actions to limit exposure.

County Health Director Dr. John Lanza says this is the third consecutive year that West Nile cases cropped up in Escambia County through the bite of an infected mosquito. This is one of a number of reminders put out by the Department of Health, about every two months during mosquito season.

“We’ve had a total of five cases this year,” said Lanza. “That’s because of the fact that we’re still seeing lots of mosquitoes out there even though it’s getting cooler and I think we’ll see less mosquitoes. We look forward to the cooler months because it’s a much less risk of West Nile.”

The severity of West Nile symptoms cover a wide range in humans – high fever, headache, fatigue, and possibly delirium. Lanza says they’re generally similar to those of EEE– Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Up to 80% of people infected with West Nile won't show any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you have West Nile, doctors at the CDC say you’ll typically show the first symptoms within 3 to 14 days of being bitten. Lanza adds that there are some common-sense measures of self-protection known as “drain and cover.”

Drain all standing water, both indoors and outdoors, which can serve as mosquito breeding areas. Then cover up with long pants and sleeves, and avoid going out at dawn and dusk, the top mosquito activity periods.

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.

And Dr. John Lanza reminds us that West Nile has different impacts on different people, and can also be mistaken for other ailments.

“We’re coming into flu season, we’re coming into RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) season,” Lanza said. “You don’t have the respiratory side with West Nile or these other mosquito-borne diseases. But you can mistake the signs and symptoms of flu, or West Nile for flu.”

And keep in mind that neither you nor your child can get West Nile from a person who has the disease. The virus is NOT spread by person-to-person contact such as touching, kissing, or caring for someone who is infected.