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West Nile Case Reported In Walton County

Photo via Flickr//James Jordan

State health officials are urging Floridians and visitors to protect themselves against West Nile Virus. The warning comes after the first such case in Florida this year is reported in Walton County.

There have been 38 other states with confirmed cases of West Nile this year. The Walton county case, an adult female, is not being identified any further.

West Nile virus is mosquito-borne, and causes a mild to severe illness. The severity of symptoms covers a wide range in humans, and the Department of Health-Escambia County Director Dr. John 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.

Weather conditions, heat, rainfall and other factors make it more likely to develop cases in this area from now through about the first of November. Meanwhile, county and state officials are reminding everyone to avoid mosquito bites, and basic precautions to help limit exposure to them. 

“And I can take care of that problem very simply,” said Bob Betts, Escambia County Mosquito Control Director. “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.”

Mosquitoes must have water to complete their life cycle. More water means more mosquitoes, and more mosquitoes can lead to higher levels of West Nile. The quality of that water can range from pristine to sewage effluent. And anything that holds water can be home.

Besides drain and cover, other tips include some basics when it comes to protecting yourself when mosquitoes begin making a meal out of you.

“Go in the house, find yourself some mosquito repellant, and put it on,” Betts said. “If that doesn’t work, go back in the house and put on some long sleeves and long pants. And if that doesn’t work, go back in the house and come back out another time.”

Stay indoors if possible during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are feeding. Other tips include keeping screens on doors and windows, using repellent containing DEET, and using mosquito netting to protect children younger than two months old.