The first human case of West Nile virus this year in the state of Florida has been confirmed in Jacksonville
Health officials said there is a heightened concern that additional Jacksonville residents will become ill after a 57-year-old homeless man contracted the virus. He has since been released from the hospital.
Last year, there were 29 cases of West Nile in Duval County, and one death associated with the virus.
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.
The Duval County Health Department says 80 percent of people who have West Nile virus don't know it, but only 1 percent of people have severe effects. Officials say testing may be beneficial if a doctor deems it necessary.
The Florida Department of Health in Duval County reminds residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, which may cause encephalitis disease. Duval County Mosquito Control and the Health Department continue surveillance and prevention efforts and encourage everyone to take basic precautions to help limit exposure by following the Department of Health recommendations.
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.
If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer's directions.
For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products.
The Department of Health continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, and dengue. Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds via the website for Surveillance of Wild-bird Die-offs. For more information, visit DOH's website or call the Duval County Health Department at 904-253-1850.