Three suspected West Nile cases turn out to be false alarm
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:53 p.m.
The three cases of suspected West Nile virus in Alachua County came back negative, according to an Alachua County Department of Health statement Wednesday.
“It’s a bit of a surprise given all the information we had before confirmatory blood testing,” said Paul Myers, Alachua County Health Department administrator. Interviews with the individuals -- all men -- revealed they had spent a significant amount of time outside. Two were from right outside the city limits of Gainesville, and one was between Gainesville and Hawthorne. One person reported having the flu-like symptoms associated with the virus, including a high fever.
When the men tried donating blood in October, antibodies to the virus were discovered in their samples, alerting health officials to the possibility the men had been infected.
“The blood tests at the front end of this are very sensitive. It’s comforting to know it’s safe,” Myers said, adding that this is especially true during the holiday season, when a lot of people donate blood and traffic accidents tend to increase.
The three people are doing fine, Myers said, and the symptomatic person has recovered.
“I’m happy that they don’t have to worry about long-term health issues,” Myers said.
The virus can induce headache, fever and stiff neck, followed by depression and fatigue lasting months. The more severe forms of the virus can cause more chronic mental problems, including cognitive decline.
Myers said that even though these people are in the clear, county residents still should take precautions against mosquitoes, including covering up, wearing repellant and draining areas around their houses with still water. Light traps continue to catch mosquitoes every week, Myers added.
The disease was first detected in Alachua County on Sept. 20 in sentinel chickens in Hawthorne, Waldo, Gainesville and Alachua. The county continues to monitor chickens on a weekly basis.
“Alachua County still remains under a mosquito alert advisory, and I don’t anticipate that changing until the first hard freeze,” Myers said.
Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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