West Nile virus case confirmed in Duval County

Department of Health warning people about mosquito-borne disease

By Stacey Readout - Assistant News Director, Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in Duval County and there's a concern additional people will become ill, the Florida Department of Health in Duval County announced Thursday.

DOH said there has been an increase in "mosquito-borne disease activity" in areas of Duval County.

This is the first case of West Nile in Duval County since 2014.

  • 2015 -- zero
  • 2014 -- one case
  • 2013 -- two cases
  • 2012 -- 29 cases and one death
  • 2011 -- 20 cases
  • 2010 -- one case

DOH is advising people to do whatever they can to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to take basic precautions to limit exposure.

Remember to "drain and cover":

  • Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying
  • Discord old tires, drums, bottles, cans and other items that aren't being used
  • Empty and clean bird baths and pet water bowls at least once or twice a week
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that do not 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
  • Always read repellent labels. Some are not suitable for children.
  • Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house

John Shellhorn with Duval County Mosquito Control said that because of the Zika virus, the calls for mosquito control workers have been steady.

"Our inspectors have been busy this season. We work closely with the Health Department. Not only do we have our regular seasonal operations, where we respond to seasonal requests," Shellhorn said.

Duval County has reported another travel-related case of the Zika virus, the DOH also announced Thursday. The total number of travel-related cases, which stem from people bringing the virus into the state from elsewhere, climbed to 534. There are 43 non-travel-related cases, and 70 cases involving pregnant women.

According to Shellhorn, the mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus or the Zika virus are most prevalent in urban areas with a lot of buildings and houses, which means pretty much anywhere inside the Interstate 295 beltway in Jacksonville.

"What we're preaching this year is the same thing we've been doing every year, but we've really been hitting it this year with the Zika. That's protection and prevention. You need to think about you and your kids," Shellhorn said.

Dr. Harold Laski at Southside Medical Center said the West Nile virus is not as much of a threat as the Zika virus this year, but people need to be on alert for symptoms similar to a cold, especially in children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. 

"There are respiratory symptoms. There's fever, joint achiness," Laski said. "A grand majority of the people that get it will suffer no symptoms or very mild symptoms. Common cold symptoms are the most prevalent."

The DOH continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya and dengue.

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