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Duval County Reports 18th Case Of West Nile

All But 1 Case Of Virus Reports Has Come From Jacksonville's Westside

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 18th case of West Nile virus this year has been reported in Jacksonville, according to the Duval County Health Department.

The case involves a 52-year-old man.

There have been two reported deaths associated with a confirmed case of the virus in recent weeks: a 57-year-old woman who died last month after developing meningitis and a 64-year-old woman who died with the virus in August.

About one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness, health officials said.

Dr. Bob Harmon, of the Duval County Health Department, said 80 percent of those people infected with the virus will experience no symptoms at all, while 20 percent will have symptoms. Harmon said one out of 150 people can develop a serious neurological disease.

Symptoms of West Nile virus, a form of encephalitis carried by mosquitoes, may include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion. Physicians should contact their county health department if they suspect an individual may meet the case definition for a mosquito-borne illness.

Health officials say people considered most at risk for the virus are those older than 50 and those who are not healthy or have chronic illnesses.

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

West Nile cases are relatively rare in northeast Florida. There was one case last year. One Jacksonville resident died of the virus in 2005. St. Johns County reported a West Nile death in 2003.

Health officials said all but one of the cases this year have been on the Westside. The 64-year-old woman who died lived in the ZIP code 32210, which covers parts of the Westside, near Herlong Airport. Six of the cases were in that ZIP code, health officials said. Five were in the 32205 ZIP code, and there was one case each in ZIP codes 32244, 32254, 22202 and 32221 -- all on the Westside. One case was reported in the 32217 ZIP code, which covers the Lakewood area.

The city's Mosquito Control Division has stepped up spraying in those areas.

The state monitors animals as sentinels for West Nile to determine if any of the viruses are present in the community.

Officials said standing water in yards and basins are where mosquitoes breed, and that's where the city is focusing its attention in spraying and testing mosquitoes for the virus.

DCHD continues to advise the public to take steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes, including:

  • Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying. This includes water that collects in garbage cans, roof 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. 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.
  • Cover skin with 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.

The Florida 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 MyFWC.com/bird. For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit DOH?s Environmental Public Health website or call 904-253-1850.