Martin County residents check optimistic on the Treasure Coast

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Catie Wegman

| Treasure Coast Newspapers
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West Nile Virus Leading Symptoms Explained

West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the US, with the highest concentration in the Midwest. Find out if you are infected here.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed a positive case of the West Nile virus in humans in Martin County on Monday – the first in two decades, FDOH data shows.

It is not known when a Martin County resident would last tested positive for the disease, as readily available information only dates back to 2000. St. Lucie and Indian River counties have also not seen a human case since at least 2003.

“It’s unusual in that regard,” said Renay Rouse, spokesman for the Martin County’s Department of Health, of the positive human case. “It does happen, however, and pretty strange things have happened in 2020.”

It is most commonly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There are no vaccines to prevent this or drugs to treat it in humans. Most infected people do not feel sick and it is rarely fatal.

Martin County issued a mosquito-borne disease notice on Aug. 19 after sentinel chickens tested positive. This also applies if the increased disease activity continues. This emerges from a press release published on Monday.

All three counties found the virus in their respective sentinel chicken programs this year, which are used to detect the presence of the West Nile and other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue or Zika virus.

A positive test result in the chickens means that the risk of transmission to humans has increased.

More: West Nile Virus, DOH, found in chickens from Martin County calls for precautionary measures

More: West Nile Virus Infection Found in Indian River County Sentinel Chickens

More: St. Lucie chickens positive for West Nile Virus

However, human cases of the West Nile are not uncommon in Florida. As of October 19, there were 59 states in Bay, Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties.

Infections usually occur during the hot, humid summer months, but transmission can occur any month of the year. It’s not uncommon for mosquito-borne disease reports to extend well into November, Rouse said.

West Nile can cause fever, headaches and body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes in one in five people infected. However, the majority of those who contract the virus will not show any symptoms.

Residents should take preventive measures, including:

  • Cover the skin with clothing or repellent
  • Drain off standing water to prevent mosquitoes from multiplying
  • Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitos out of your home

Catie Wegman is a community reporter who also produces “Ask Catie,” an occasional role in finding answers to your burning questions about anything and everything – the more bizarre the better. Contact her at catie.wegman@tcpalm.com and follow her @Catie_Wegman on Twitter and @ catiewegman1 on Facebook.

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