November 2, 2023
Human case of West Nile Virus reported
MOBILE, Ala. — A case of human West Nile Virus (WNV), which is a form of mosquito-borne encephalitis, has been confirmed in Mobile County, according to Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County.
This is the fifth human case reported in Mobile County this year. Because of patient privacy rights under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), no additional identifying information will be available.
Humans with WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases often have symptoms of high fever, severe headache, nausea, stiff neck, confusion, muscle weakness, paralysis, disorientation, and seizures that are severe enough to require medical attention. In rare cases, WNV can cause coma or death. The seriousness of an illness may depend on a person’s health and age. WNV affects the elderly most severely, health data shows.
The risk of encephalitis spread by mosquitoes is highest from August through the first freeze in the fall. Vector Services will increase spraying and conduct door-to-door surveys in the immediate areas. Inspectors will also attempt to trap adult mosquitoes and test them for the presence of WNV.
Dr. Michaels warns that it is extremely important that people taking part in outdoor activities make every effort to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes and should always keep mosquito repellent with them when outdoors. Mosquito activity peaks at dusk and again at dawn. He goes on to advise that draining standing water will stop mosquitoes from multiplying, cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house and cover skin with clothing or appropriate repellent.
WNV is transmitted from bird to mosquito to bird. Mosquitoes can spread these viruses by feeding on the blood of infected birds and then biting another host animal or mammal, such as a human or a horse.
Although humans and horses can become ill from the infection, the disease cannot be spread from people or horses. The likelihood of transmission to humans and horses can be decreased by personal mosquito avoidance and the use of WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) vaccines in horses. There are no WNV or EEE vaccines available for humans.
A new online portal is now available to help the public request assistance from Vector Services and receive feedback on their request to deal with mosquitoes or rodents. To learn more about the department, you may visit https://mchd.org/vector-control. From there, you can find a link and a QR code to access the new online portal for ordering services.