County health officials recommend continued caution to prevent mosquito-borne disease

One case of West Nile virus recently confirmed

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) is reminding residents to be aware of continued mosquito-borne disease activity in Sarasota County.

“While cooler weather has reduced the number of mosquitos in our environment,” a news release says, “we continue to be under a mosquito-borne disease advisory.”

DOH-Sarasota staff recently identified a human case of West Nile virus in the county, the release points out. The initial onset of symptoms was reported in late September, the release says, with confirmation just a short while ago that the patient had contracted West Nile virus.

“Most people do not develop any symptoms, but one in five people can experience headache, body ache, joint pain, diarrhea or rash,” the release explains. “Severe illness can occur in people of any age,” it adds. However people over age 60 “are at greater risk,” the release emphasizes. “Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, neck stiffness, tremors, muscle weakness and vision loss,” the release says.

“While the peak period of transmission in Florida is July through September,” the release continues, “mosquito-borne diseases can be transmitted throughout the fall. West Nile virus is transmitted to wild birds by Culex mosquitoes. Occasionally, an infected mosquito will bite a human or animal (particularly horses) and cause disease. Culex mosquitoes are known to bite from dusk to dawn,” the release notes.

Sarasota County Mosquito Management Services and DOH- Sarasota are continuing their surveillance and prevention efforts, the release says.

Further, along with watching for new cases of West Nile virus, the release adds, the state’s Department of Health continues to conduct Florida-wide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, malaria and dengue.

Residents and visitors “should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by taking basic precautions to help to limit exposure,” the release points out. Those measures include the following:

  • Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
  • Cover skin with clothing or insect repellent (preferably with DEET).
  • Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.

For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the Florida Department of Health online or call the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County at 941-861-2900.