JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There are nine confirmed cases of people becoming ill with the West Nile virus in Duval County, the only county in Florida with human cases.
That matches the nine cases reported in the entire state of Georgia in 6 different counties, none of those in southeast Georgia. The virus is spreading across the country in great numbers.
Joe Conlon is a technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association. Conlon, who lives in Orange Park, says the cases have come early and in great numbers, and there is no sign of a let up.
"The fact that we have so many cases this early, and it is so widespread, really does not bode well for the future summer."
The numbers in Florida and Georgia are well below other states in the union. Texas leads the way with 336 cases, Mississippi has 59 , Louisiana 52 and 49 in Oklahoma.
"This is probably the worst we have had in about 8 years."
All the more reason for people to take care to avoid the devastating disease than can cause great suffering or even death.
"The majority of people are between the age of 20 and 60 that are exposed to the disease, but anyone can get it.'
To protect against mosquitoes, people are advised to practice the 5 D's. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most likely to bite, dress with clothing that covers your skin, use repellents containing DEET , and proper drainage, meaning check around your home to rid the area of standing water, which is where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
Dallas has declared a state of emergency with more than 200 cases of the virus reported, and 10 people have died. They are doing aerial spraying there for the first time since 1966.
Conlon, a former epidemiologist with the Navy, says spraying is safe. "The CDC did a study from 1999 to 2003 covering a number of people. Out of 118 million people living in areas that were sprayed, only 1 person was hospitalized with a pesticide related illness. That compares with the 1,316 people who died during the same time period from the West Nile Virus."
First Coast News