West Nile Virus Cases Confirmed in Florida, New Mexico

May 28, 2020 Updated: May 28, 2020

The second case of West Nile virus was confirmed in Florida this week, days after the first case this year in New Mexico was confirmed.

Both cases in Florida were detected in Miami-Dade County. The first case was confirmed earlier this month.

New Mexico health officials on May 21 said a San Juan County male resident in his 50s was diagnosed with the virus. He was hospitalized but was recovering, the state Department of Health said.

“At a time where all of us are focused on COVID-19, we still must remember common seasonal viruses like West Nile,” said Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel in a statement. “West Nile virus can be a serious health concern anywhere in New Mexico where mosquitos are active.”

The state has had cases every year since 2003, when it was first introduced into the state.

The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County is under a mosquito-borne illness alert. The alert was issued late last year after officials found cases of dengue fever.

Mosquito zika
File photo of an aedes aegypti mosquito on human skin in Cali, Colombia, on Jan. 25, 2016. (Lus Robayo/AFP/Getty Images)

The West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. Typically spreading to people when mosquitoes bite them, the virus has no vaccine or proven treatment.

Most people infected with the virus don’t feel sick; around 20 percent experience symptoms including fever, headache, pain, and fatigue. Less than 1 percent of infected people develop serious illness and some of those end up dying. The elderly and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to experience serious illness.

Health officials say members of the public should follow guidance to drain standing water, which stops mosquitoes from multiplying, and cover their skin with clothing or repellent.

Water should be drained from garbage cans, buckets, pool covers, and other containers where water collects in addition to discarding tires and other items that aren’t being used, emptying and cleaning birdbaths and pets’ water bowls at least weekly, using tarps that don’t accumulate water to cover boats and vehicles, and keeping swimming pools appropriately chlorinated.

Long pants and long-sleeved shirts may be necessary for people working outside in certain areas; if there’s bare skin, people should use repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535.

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