Jax woman tests positive for West Nile virus

1st confirmed case in Duval County this year


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 62-year-old Jacksonville woman is recovering after contracting the West Nile virus, the first confirmed case in Duval County this year, according to the Health Department.

The woman was hospitalized but has since been released.  Authorities won't say what part of town she was from, but will discuss locations if they start to see a trend.

The symptoms include fevers, rash, nausea, vomiting and headaches.

If the fever goes up and you feel like you're losing your mind, see your doctor.

"Patients can even get worse, where it can affect their brain, spinal cord," said family medicine physician Shalaka Ghate. "So that's what I want patients to watch for."

The Health Department is emphasizing the importance of protection against mosquito-borne diseases.

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.

Residents experiencing symptoms common to West Nile virus should call their health care provider to see if they need to be seen. Physicians should contact DCHD if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne illness.

There were 19 cases of West Nile virus in Duval County last year. Two patients died. A patient in Glynn County, Ga., also died of the virus.

Clay County officials said they have scheduled aerial spraying for mosquitoes Thursday evening.

"We're trying to continue with our prevention messages ... to protect ourselves regardless," said Vincy Samuel of the Health Department. "Even if it's an afternoon storm, we still want to make sure that we are draining our water and using proper protection."

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.

The Florida Department of Health said it 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 located at www.myfwc.com/bird/.

For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit DOH's Environmental Public Health website at www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/index.html or call your DCHD at 904-253-1850.