Human case of West Nile virus confirmed in Volusia County

By Brittany Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, December 01, 2017, 8:46 PM EST

A person has been infected with the West Nile virus in Volusia County, health officials say.

Health officials said a woman reported having the virus a couple weeks ago and had to recover in the hospital.

Now health officials are warning people to keep their mosquito spray nearby, because the mosquitoes that carry the virus could be breeding in any body of water, and people should do whatever it takes to prevent being bitten.

Concerns regarding mosquitoes with the virus breeding have escalated after last week's heavy rain left standing water in a number of locations.

"You have the potential for these mosquitoes to breed when you do get rain," said Paul Rehme, the director of disease control at the Department of Health. "Especially when the weather is warmer, you will see an increase in mosquitoes and risk of the disease itself."

They said this case increases their concern for transmission to humans.

"It’s unusual to see the cases," Rehme said.

The director said there have been four cases of West Nile in the state this year. The last time there was an outbreak here in Volusia there were four cases in 2014.

"People may mistake it for the flu, so it's quite possible that there are other cases out there. Generally this is probably an under-reported disease," Rehme said.

Health officials say they use sentinel chickens to detect some mosquito-borne illnesses, like West Nile virus, but none of the county's sentinel chickens have tested positive for the virus this year.

Chickens are used to detect some mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile.

Rehme said if you get West Nile, you could face some neurological problems, and it's potentially deadly.

He also said the woman hadn't traveled outside the area in the past couple weeks prior to her getting sick, so they believe she got it here.

How to prevent being bitten

Health officials advised people to wear long pants, socks and long sleeves to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to wear insect repellent.

Symptoms of West Nile include fever, headache and skin rash, among others. Most people who contract it, about 80 percent, don't show symptoms. In those who do develop symptoms, most experience a mild illness with conditions like headache, fever, pain and fatigue. Symptoms typically appear between two and 14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

Health officials are also advising people to drain any standing water so mosquitoes don't breed near you.

  • 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.