Collier County health officials report a man has died from West Nile infection and a second man is hospitalized for symptoms from the mosquito-borne illness.
The two cases were confirmed late Thursday, both occurring in older men, according to the Collier County Health Department.
All residents are advised take heightened precautions to avoid mosquito bites, namely by avoiding outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active and to clean out water-logged containers which are breeding grounds.
The last human cases of West Nile occurred in 2003, one in July and one in September, said Deb Millsap, spokeswoman for the health department. In both those cases, the individuals survived, she said.
Millsap could not release any details about the two recent cases except to say one lives in the north end of Collier and the other comes from the southern part. She would not disclose where the one man is hospitalized in Collier. She would not disclose ages of the two men.
“What we know is that anyone 50 and older is at greater risk (of developing symptoms),” she said. “It is just that their immune system tends to weaken over time.”
People also can be bitten by an infected mosquito and they may not develop symptoms or they have mild symptoms and they recover on their own.
There are not a lot of mosquitoes in the environment now but the peak West Nile season is mid-September and the season can last through October depending on the warm weather.
“In discussion with our partners at the Collier Mosquito Control District, although there are actually low numbers of mosquitoes in our area, all it takes is one mosquito bite to infect us and make us ill,” said Dr. Joan Colfer, director of the health department. “Therefore, we hope our residents and visitors will take the mosquito alert seriously and implement all mosquito precautions and be especially vigilant about the use of mosquito repellent.”
Symptoms of West Nile can include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion.
To protect themselves from mosquitoes, residents need to follow the five “D’s:”
■ Avoid outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are seeking blood.
■ Dress in clothing that covers most of your skin.
■ Deet repellents are most effective
■ Drain standing water in pots and other containers where mosquitoes like to lay eggs.
For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, and mosquito control treatment schedules visit www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/index.html
Residents also can call the Collier County Health Department at 239-252-8226.