County still combating West Nile virus

Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 01:32 PM.

The Santa Rosa County Health Department continues its mosquito-borne virus alert. An additional case of human West Nile Virus (WNV) has been reported, bringing the total number to three.

The possibility that others may become infected with the virus remains extremely high, and the health department strongly encourage the public to continue to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

First reported in the United States in 1999, by 2004 West Nile Virus had spread throughout the continental U.S. The virus is spread by mosquitoes and the majority of cases have been reported in birds. The virus is transmitted to a mosquito when it bites an infected bird. The mosquito can then transfer the virus by biting another animal or a person.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, there is no specific treatment for WNV and as many as 80 per cent of those who become infected may display no symptoms and recover well on their own. About 20 per cent experience symptoms similar to the flu. Less than one percent of those infected become seriously ill, but severe cases can lead to meningitis or enchephalitis, which can be fatal. Those most at risk are individuals over the age of 50 or those who have had an organ transplant.

The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile Virus is by preventing mosquito bites:
• Avoid going outside between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Dress so clothing covers most of your skin. Wear long sleeves, long pants, socks and shoes.
• Apply mosquito repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diethly-3-methyl-benzamide), Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD, or IR3535 (3-[N-Butyl-N- acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester), and always follow label directions carefully.
• Install screens on windows and doors. Repair any torn or damaged screens.
• Empty standing water to discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs.

At least once a week, empty yard items such as pets' water dishes, bird baths and flower pots. Clean rain gutters so that water drains freely. Remove trash items, such as discarded tires, that can hold water and provide sites for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

Santa Rosa County Mosquito Control also continues spraying efforts.

Mosquito spray routes are scheduled on Monday afternoon for each week based on several factors, including the number of citizen call-ins, field reports, and mosquito trap counts collected throughout the county. Spraying is weather dependant. If temperatures drop below 60 degrees or there is rain, mosquito spraying operations are stopped. For more information please contact Santa Rosa
County Mosquito Control at (850) 981-7135 or visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/mosquito/index.cfm.

The Santa Rosa County Health Department is no longer testing dead birds for West Nile Virus. However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is tracking reports of dead birds via their website. To report a dead bird, go to: http://www.MyFWC.com/bird.
 



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