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Another West Nile Alert For Escambia County

Photo via Flickr//James Jordan

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County has issued a mosquito-borne illness alert, after a second case of West Nile virus was confirmed in an adult male. This is the sixth human case in Florida in 2015.

This is the fourth consecutive year that West Nile cases have cropped up in Escambia County through the bite of an infected mosquito. Dr. John Lanza, the Director of the Florida Department of Health-Escambia County, reminds us that West Nile has different impacts on different people, and can also be mistaken for other ailments.

“You don’t have the respiratory side with West Nile or other mosquito-borne illnesses, but you can mistake the signs and symptoms of flu, or West Nile for flu,” said Lanza.

West Nile patients typically show the first symptoms within three to 14 days of being bitten. About 70-80%  of those infected don’t realize they have it. But about one in five are hit hard.

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

Neuroinvasive diseases can also develop in less than one percent of West Nile virus cases. Those include encephalitis or meningitis. While the odds are that most people bitten by mosquitoes will show no West Nile symptoms, the CDC says that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself.

To that end, Lanza says there are some common-sense measures of self-protection, collectively known as “drain and cover.”

“It’s easier now wearing long sleeves-long pants during dusk and dawn when we see most of the mosquito activities,” said Lanza. “Still, we suggest using DEET, either on our skin or on our clothes, [and] of course, we would like to see people have screens on their windows.”

Also be sure to drain all standing water. And when dumping it, don’t forget what’s accumulated indoors.

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.                

More information can be found at www.EscambiaHealth.com, and at www.cdc.gov.