By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As if the coronavirus wasn’t enough to deal with, the state’s health department said ten more people in Miami-Dade have contracted the West Nile virus.

It brings the total number of infections in the county to 14.

“I’ve noticed a lot, especially in the backyard, like way more,” said resident Simon Escobar.

Escobar has been swatting away while in the backyard. What he was surprised to hear is that there are now 14 confirmed cases of the mosquito-transmitted West Nile Virus in Miami-Dade.

So far, no cases are reported in Broward. This is the type of mosquito that carries it. The insect is known as “the Southern House Mosquito.”

Early-morning spraying is targeting adults.

“What you want to do is target the adult flying mosquitoes because those are the ones responsible for transmitting the virus, the ones that are biting,” said Dr. Bill Petrie of Miami-Dade Mosquito Control.

Dr. Petrie tells us this type of mosquito can breed just about anywhere but saltwater but they love storm drains.

“The important thing is, it’s an immediate response and it’s aggressive. You have to go all out,” said Dr. Petrie.

Dr. Paula Echardt is the head of Infectious Disease at Memorial Health Care System. She reports symptoms are usually like mild flu.

“Some people don’t even know they had it because they are complete without any symptoms. Most people recover well, but there is a small percentage of people that can get a complication from the virus,” said Dr. Echardt.

We’re now learning the upper Keys are reporting 8 new cases of dengue fever, also transmitted by mosquitoes. The symptoms are similar, usually mild, but can be serious.

“Sometimes, if you’ve had multiple times dengue fever in the past, you get infected multiple times, you might end up have a more severe version of it,” said Dr. Echardt.
Health officials have put the county under a mosquito-borne illness alert.

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

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not feel sick, according to the health department.

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.

But West Nile is not the only mosquito-borne virus popping up.

All indications are that the infections in Monroe County were locally acquired.

Dengue can present as a severe flu-like illness with severe muscle aches and pain, fever, and sometimes a rash. Usually, there are no respiratory symptoms. Symptoms of Dengue will appear within 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Dengue fever is not contagious but is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito.

In order to help stop the spread of the mosquito-borne illness, you have to stop the mosquitos by remembering Drain and Cover.

DRAIN standing water around your house to stop the pesky critters from multiplying.

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots 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.

COVER skin with clothing or repellent.

  • 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.

Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitos out of your house. Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

Ted Scouten

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