Because of local transmission of Zika virus in Florida, 42 cases to date, all eyes are on the Miami-Dade region and now Pinellas County. However, with all the attention on Zika, two human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) were reported during the past week, practically flying under the radar.
The Florida Department of Health says the two cases were reported in individuals from Okaloosa (acquired in July) and Santa Rosa Counties (acquired in August).
WNV is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitos through bites. Most, about 4 out of 5, people infected will experience no symptoms and develop immunity. About 1 in 5 infected people develop a low grade fever, headache and muscle aches that begin a week or two after becoming infected. Generally, no treatment is needed.
However, in less than 1 percent of infected people, serious, life-threatening symptoms develop including headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, and other symptoms.
Since the first WNV cases were reported in 2001, Florida has seen 356 total cases, including the two mentioned above.
In 2016, WNV positive samples have been reported from 71 sentinel chickens, two humans, one horse, and two mosquito pools have been received from 16 counties.