MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County confirmed the first case of West Nile virus infection of 2020.

Health officials said the West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. They said it is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

There are currently no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.

Officials said the symptoms include the following:

“Most people infected with West Nile virus do not feel sick. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms such as headache, pain, and fatigue. People with mild illness typically recover within about a week with symptomatic treatment. Less than one-percent of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. Symptoms typically appear between two and 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. People over the age of 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk for severe disease.”

Health officials are urging residents to take the following steps:

• Drain water from garbage cans, house 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 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.
• 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.
• Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
• Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are effective.
• Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/#searchform.

The Department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya, and dengue. Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s site – http://legacy.myfwc.com/bird/default.asp. For more information, visit DOH’s website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/%5C/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases/index.html or contact DOH-Miami-Dade County.

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