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West Nile Alert For Escambia County

Photo via Flickr//James Jordan

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County is out with another mosquito-borne illness alert, after confirmation of two additional cases of West Nile virus.

That brings the total West Nile cases for this calendar year to four in Escambia County, and nine overall in Florida.

Dr. John Lanza is Director of FDOH in Escambia says this is the fourth consecutive year that West Nile has been located here, through the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile impacts different people differently, and can 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.

The first symptoms of West Nile typically show up within three to 14 days of being bitten. While about 70-80 percent of those infected don’t realize they have it, roughly one in five are hit pretty 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 – such as encephalitis and meningitis – can develop in less than one percent of West Nile cases. While the odds are that most people bitten by mosquitoes will show no symptoms, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself.

“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.”

That’s the “cover” part of “drain and cover.” The drain part is to get rid of all standing water. Mosquitoes must have water to complete their life cycle. More water means more mosquitoes, and the possible increase of West Nile. And when draining, don’t forget what’s collected indoors.

Dr. John Lanza also reminds everyone that West Nile is not spread through person-to-person contact, such as touching, kissing, or caring for someone who’s infected.

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