Battle to prevent West Nile Virus takes to the sky - FOX 13 News

Battle to prevent West Nile Virus takes to the sky

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Aerial spraying in Hillsborough County took place Saturday morning. Aerial spraying in Hillsborough County took place Saturday morning.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A helicopter took to the air in Tampa Saturday to fight a disease anyone who goes outside can contract: the West Nile Virus.

The pesky, flying bug that carries it attacks from the sky.

"Every time that we have a human case from a disease that can be transmitted by mosquitoes we work with the health department," said Carlos Fernandes, Hillsborough County's Director of Mosquito Control.

The Department sprayed in the Northwestern Hillsborough County area encompassing Westchase, Carrollwood, and Town 'N Country.

Health officials say a male resident in that area came down with the West Nile Virus on Thursday.

"One of our local providers saw a patient and they contacted us to let us know that it was a suspect case," said Warren McDougle of the Hillsborough County Health Department.

That discovery led to Mosquito Control taking action.

"We came, we inspected the area, we found a tremendous number of culex larvae," Fernandes explained. "Culex is a genus of mosquito that is very effective in transmitting West Nile virus."

The result is aggressive action fighting the disease.

"Today (Saturday) we are going to be covering between 600 and 700 acres of thick vegetation," Fernandes added.

The Hillsborough County Health Department says Thursday's case is the first human case of West Nile since 2004.

The 60-year-old man who contracted the disease has been treated and is expected to be ok.

Officials say most mild infections of the disease are typically overcome with little or no medical intervention. More severe cases may be treated with drugs but there is no human vaccine currently available for West Nile.

The virus is not transmitted from human to human. In fact, the most common source of infection in humans is transmitted through mosquito bites.

That's why aggressive tactics means fighting the bugs that may be exposed to the potentially deadly virus.

"Mosquito control becomes the operational arm to stop the mosquito population from exploding," Fernandes says. "Making this transmission more effective broader."

Health officials say people in the community can also help fight West Nile.

They say dump and cover items outdoors that can hold water.

They also say wear mosquito repellent and cover your arms and legs as much as possible, especially if you're outside at dawn or dusk.

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