BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Health Department has ruled out a recent or active human instance of West Nile virus after investigating a suspected case, according to department spokeswoman Ann-Gayl Ellis.
Weeki Wachee resident Robert Sachs was diagnosed with West Nile virus late last month after he was hospitalized at Oak Hill Hospital with a fever, a stiff neck, shortness of breath and other symptoms.
At that time, hospital blood tests showed that he had been exposed to the West Nile virus at some point in his past, but a second test indicated he didn't have an active case.
Health Department officials only count a case as active if the second test, which identifies a body's defenses kicking in at the start of an infection, comes back with a positive result. Hernando County has never had an active human case of West Nile virus.
West Nile virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and the Health Department had noted that mosquitoes in the area had been found with West Nile late last year.
Sachs and his wife, Gina, said they wanted to make the community aware of the risks of mosquito bites and concern about the county further cutting back on mosquito control activities. Sachs agreed to take the second blood test to determine whether the hospital's test was flawed, but the result came back the same.
Sachs could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Ellis said that while the investigation didn't turn up active West Nile, following basic protocol to keep down the mosquito population is always a good idea. With recent rains, ponds and other areas are holding water and that can lead to mosquito infestations.
The Health Department recommends limiting time outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, wearing clothing that covers the skin, using repellents that include DEET and draining areas of standing water.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.