Lee County Mosquito Control testing for West Nile, no cases reported
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEHIGH ACRES - The West Nile virus is killing a record number of Americans this season.
So far this year 66 people have died, which is more than any other time since West Nile was first detected in the US more than a decade ago.
Many of the deaths are in Texas but it's a concern in any place that has mosquitoes since they transmit the virus.
While there are no cases reported in southwest Florida, there have been more than 1500 cases of the virus reported nationwide.
"It worries me," said mother of two Jessica Gomez. "It scares me because people can die from it."
The recent outbreak is one of the largest on record. In Florida, 13 counties have reported cases of West Nile in humans and animals.
"It can" be deadly, said Lee County Health Department spokeswoman Diane Holm. "But only in very, very rare cases."
Health officials say 80 percent of those who come in contact with the virus aren't seriously affected showing few if any symptoms.
"It's not a big concern for us yet," said Holm. "We know it's on the way. It's moving around the country and toward us in Lee County. But, right now, we have had no cases at all."
Lee County Mosquito Control is also keeping a close watch.
"We always take human diseases...[spread] by mosquitoes very seriously," said Lee County Mosquito Control Deputy Director Jonathan Hornby.
Outside, three chickens are kept in a metal wire cage. Since birds carry the virus, the Mosquito Control keeps tests nearly 100 chickens every two weeks for signs of West Nile or other diseases.
"We have yet to find any disease," said Hornby, "in those chickens this mosquito season."
But when it comes to protecting her two kids, Gomez isn't taking any chances.
"Maybe I'll take extra precaution," said Gomez. "Put some bug spray on, keep them in at night."
Experts say the best way to fend off mosquitoes is to cover yourself with clothing and insect repellent at dusk and dawn.
Also, drain and cover any standing water and pick up things like bottles or cans, that can collect water, and act as a breeding ground.