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12 human cases of West Nile virus confirmed in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that there are now 12 human cases of West Nile virus in the state for 2018.

The cases were reported in multiple regions of Virginia, including the following health districts:

  • Fairfax (2)
  • Arlington (3)
  • Lord Fairfax (1)
  • Chesapeake (1)
  • Central Shenandoah (3)
  • Chickahominy (1)
  • Rappahannock-Rapidan (1)

A spokesperson with the Virginia Department of Health said of these 12 cases, only one has been captured so far in the monthly morbidity surveillance tables, which is only current through July. August data will be available by September 15.

The Chesapeake Health Department also reported Tuesday that a horse recently diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has died. Horse owners in areas that have tested positive for the disease have been notified, and they have also been strongly encouraged to vaccinate their animals.

"Eastern Equine is considered more rare in humans; there's only like 7 cases in the whole United States in a year. West Nile, however, more people are prone to that but it's still not common," said Lisa Engle with the Chesapeake Health Department.

The health department is reminding residents that mosquito season is still here so it is important to protect yourself from the virus. They say August and September are the most active months for mosquito-borne diseases, including EEE and WNV.

Experts say you will always find mosquitoes after a lot of rainfall or around stagnant water, calling them their breeding grounds.

People most at risk of getting the viruses are the elderly, children and people with weak immune systems because of diseases like cancer or diabetes.

"With West Nile virus or Eastern Equine, it's all of a sudden. It's a sudden onset of a fever; a headache; they're disoriented; they may have seizures or tremors, which hopefully you would go to the doctor for anyway. But if you have those symptoms, you need to see a provider," Engle said.

However, there are ways to protect yourself. Ways to prevent mosquito bites include:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

You can also cover up your skin and take steps to keep the bugs out of your home as well as eliminating breeding areas mosquitoes are attracted to.

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