On July 28, The Florida Department of Health raised the mosquito-borne illness advisory to an alert after a second human case of West Nile virus, or WNV, was confirmed in Walton County.
“We want to remind Okaloosa residents that mosquitos do not respect county lines. Take action to protect yourself and your families from any mosquito-borne illness,” said Karen Chapman, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County, or DOH-Okaloosa.
WNV is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that can cause mild to severe illness. Discovered first in Florida in 2001, WNV often peaks in the late summer months, specifically July through September, and there is no exception in this area.
According to the Florida Department of Health, most individuals affected by WNV do not show symptoms, but if symptoms are present, the individual may report a headache, fever, pain and/or fatigue two to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The Florida DOH suggests that if you experience any symptoms to seek medical attention immediately. The most severe cases involve the patient developing neuroinvasive WNV, which involves meningitis or encephalitis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of July 21, over 20 states have reported cases of WNV in people, nine were classified as neuroinvasive.
While there is research on an effective vaccine, no cure or treatment for WNV exists.
“Drain and cover is an easy way to remember how to lessen your chances of mosquito bites,” said Chapman.
Drain and cover is a program the DOH developed to help remind residents to help prevent mosquitoes, telling them to drain any standing water around their home and to cover themselves and their homes.
With this, DOH-Okaloosa believes less people will be bitten by mosquitoes.
Ryan Mims, the public information officer for DOH-Okaloosa, stated that while there has been no activity of WNV in Okaloosa County, they are actively monitoring the situation.
For more information about West Nile Virus, see http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/west-nile-virus/index.html.