HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Health officials have confirmed a human case of West Nile virus in Hillsborough County, the local branch of the Florida Department of Health said Tuesday.
“We were made aware of this case through a blood donation. Anytime blood is donated, run through a lab, and there is a reportable disease that is detected in it, it is something we are made aware of at the Health Department,” said Kevin Watler, a department spokesman.
The department issued a mosquito-borne illness advisory Tuesday, saying that there is a heightened concern more residents could become ill.
The department said it would continue to monitor the situation, and advised residents to avoid getting bit by mosquitos, which is how the virus is transmitted.
The infected person told officials he or she had no recently travel history.
“Now, it is not unusual for a human case of West Nile to occur. It does happen every so often. We probably have one or two maybe each year or so,” Watler said.
Symptoms of West Nile virus infection may include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes, health officials recomment the “drain and cover” method:
- Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected.
- Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.
- Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
- Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
- Cover skin with clothing or repellent.
“Obviously it’s very scary, very concerning,” said Elise Aiello, an Ybor City resident. “I just think of all the precautions I might need to take to prevent that. When it’s close to home it’s very concerning.”