By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 14, 2001
Hernando County's first case of West Nile virus -- in an animal, not a human -- was confirmed Thursday by the county Health Department.
On Aug. 17, a dead rock dove (a domestic pigeon) found near Mariner and Elgin boulevards in Spring Hill was sent to the Florida Department of Health laboratory for testing, and results came back positive for the West Nile virus.
So far, Florida has had four confirmed human cases of the West Nile virus and three confirmed human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis. None of those cases are in Hernando County. A medical alert is in effect for 35 Florida counties, but Hernando is not among them at this time.
The state Department of Health urges residents to take precautions against mosquito bites, which can spread these illnesses. The state recommends:
Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are likely to be looking for blood meals.
Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeve shirts if you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active.
Use mosquito repellent containing DEET according to manufacturers' directions.
Eliminate stagnant water in any receptacles in which mosquitoes might breed.
Contact the Hernando County Health Department at 754-4072 to report dead birds, or report them directly on the state's Bird Mortality Database at www.wld.fwc.state.fl.us/bird.