Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Health

First case of West Nile virus in 8 years confirmed in Hillsborough

TAMPA — Hillsborough County health officials confirmed Friday a local case of West Nile virus in a 60-year-old man, who is recovering from the mosquito-borne illness.

The last time the virus was acquired within Hillsborough was in September 2004.

The man probably became infected in the first week of August in the area north of Citrus Park, officials said. They are urging people to protect themselves with mosquito spray and to avoid the outdoors when mosquitoes are biting at dusk and at dawn.

"Since local physicians are on the lookout for these illnesses, it won't be surprising if more cases are identified," said Dr. Douglas Holt, director of the Hillsborough County Health Department.

West Nile symptoms include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion. It takes from two to 15 days for a person to develop symptoms after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

While there's no treatment for West Nile virus, most people get over mild infections within weeks. But in some cases, it can be fatal.

Since January, 19 cases of West Nile have been reported in Florida, the most recent case from Duval County, which is under a mosquito-borne illness alert, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Nationally, 1,590 cases — including 66 deaths — were reported through Tuesday, the highest number of year-to-date cases since West Nile was first detected in the country in 1999, federal health officials said this week.

More than 70 percent of the cases were in six states — Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Michigan, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell contributed to this report. Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.

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