West Nile Virus confirmed in Volusia County, health alert issued for residents as some may become ill

(Photo by Stephen Ausmus/USDA)

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Volusia County issued a mosquito-borne illness alert Friday due to human cases being confirmed. 

The DOH said due to the human cases of West Nile Virus being found in Volusia County, there is now heightened concern that additional residents will become ill. The DOH is advising residents in the county to "Drain and Cover" as a way to protect themselves from the virus. 

Residents should drain standing water to stop mosquitos from multiplying. 

The DOH advises residents do this by: 

  • Draining water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots, or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater 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 pet's 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

Residents should also cover their skin with clothing or repellant. 

The DOH has advised Volusia County residents to wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection "may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitos are present," said the DOH. 

Residents should also apply mosquito repellant to bare skin and clothing. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

"I can tell you that most people, eight out of ten, infected with West Nile do not have any symptoms and don’t even know they have it. In some people, about one in five who are infected, develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. This is called febrile illness. Most with febrile illness caused by West Nile recover completely but can show signs of fatigue and weakness for weeks or months." the DOH told FOX 35 News.

About one in 150 people who are infected with West Nile, develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

People over 60 years of age are at greater risk for severe illness if they are infected (one in 50 people). People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk.

There are no vaccine to prevent or medications to treat the virus in people.