MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — According to Mobile County Health Officer Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, a case of human West Nile Virus has been confirmed in Mobile County for the first time in 2023.
WNV is a form of mosquito-borne encephalitis and is transmitted from bird to mosquito to bird. Mosquitoes spread the virus by “feeding on the the blood of infected birds and then biting another host animal or mammal, such as a human or a horse,” a release from the Mobile County Health Department reads.
Horses can avoid WNV with an Eastern Equine Encephalitis vaccine, but there is no vaccine available for humans.
Although humans and horses can become infected, they cannot spread the virus.
Symptoms for humans with WNV include high fever, severe headache, nausea, stiff neck, confusion, muscle weakness, paralysis, disorientation and seizures. Although rare, WNV can cause someone to go into a coma or die.
According to health data, the virus has a more severe effect on elderly people.
The highest risk of the virus begins in August through the first freeze of the fall.
In the release, Dr. Michaels encouraged people of Mobile County to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and to keep mosquito repellent on hand when outdoors.