JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

With four more people in Jacksonville diagnosed with West Nike virus last week, there have now been 15 cases reported to the Duval County Health Department this year.

The most recent cases involve 59- and 69-year-old men and 39- and 56-year-old women.

Health officials say the victims live in all different parts of the city, and they won't release specific ZIP codes of where the virus is turning up until a pattern emerges.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne illness and is not spread from person to person. There is no specific medication or vaccine for the virus.

About one in 150 people infected with West Nile will develop severe illness. Symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

Earlier this month the Health Department has issued a mosquito-borne illness alert for Duval County, and officials said there is a heightened concern that more residents will become ill.

The city's Mosquito Control Division is urging everyone to help prevent breeding by draining standing water.

Florida Department of Health laboratories provide testing services for physicians treating patients with clinical signs of mosquito-borne disease.

There were 20 cases of West Nile virus in Duval County last year. Two patients died. A patient in Glynn County, Ga., also died of the virus.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, you should remember "Drain and Cover."

Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pets' water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

Cover skin with clothing or repellent.

  • Clothing -- Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Repellent -- Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective. Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.

Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.

Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.

Apply insect repellent to exposed skin or onto clothing, but not under clothing.

In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.

Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child's skin and clothing.