Just this past summer, several animals in the Brevard county area had tested positive for West Nile Virus. This includes several chickens and at least one horse. Although county officials state these numbers are not yet cause for alarm, it is something that residents should be aware of and for which they should be taking precautions.
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile virus is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. It is widely believed that mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which is why Brevard County monitors chickens and other birds at 11 separate locations.
Although there have been a few rare cases of the virus being transmitted through blood transfusions or organ transplants, it is accepted that West Nile cannot be transmitted through casual contact.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus
Many people who have the West Nile virus have no symptoms. However, there are about 20% of the people who get the virus have some flu-like symptoms. These include fatigue, body aches, headache and fever. For these individuals, the best treatment is to manage the symptoms.
There is a small percentage of people infected with the virus that go on to develop a neurological infection. This infection can cause an inflammation of the brain or spine, also known as encephalitis or meningitis. It can be fatal. If you believe you may have been exposed to the West Nile Virus, you should see a doctor right away. Severe symptoms usually require hospitalization.
Those with compromised immune systems are much more vulnerable to get the more severe symptoms and should remain watchful.
Since the disease is transmitted through mosquitoes, it is best to avoid mosquito bites. This may mean using mosquito repellant or wearing long sleeves and long pants. Mosquitoes become more active at dusk and at dawn, so if you are able, please stay inside during those hours. If you have to go outside, wear light colored and loose clothing that covers most of your body.
It’s always best to look for mosquito breeding grounds at your house. If there is anything around your house that holds standing water, then you want to get rid of those things and keep your backyard free from standing or fetid water. This includes birdbaths, wading pools, old buckets, ditches, drains, trash containers and even hollowed out spots of the tree trunk.
What does the County do?
Brevard County does spray for mosquitoes. They use aerial spraying as well as truck spraying. A full schedule is kept on the Brevard County site located at: www.BrevardCounty.us/MosquitoControl/