New West Nile Cases

Alabama has recorded nine new human cases of West Nile virus, including five in Tuscaloosa County, which bring the statewide total to 39. None of the new cases has been fatal.

In Tuscaloosa County, new cases were reported in men ages 80, 79 and 48 and women ages 66 and 64. Jefferson County had new cases in men ages 79 and 45 and a woman age 40. Mobile County reported one new case in a 78-year-old woman.

State health officials said the number of cases will increase until the temperature starts dropping below 60 degrees at night, which will slow down the breeding of the mosquito’s that spread the disease from infected birds to humans and horses.

The bad news is that an extremely cold winter won't reduce the likelihood of another outbreak next year.

So far, the state Department of Public Health has found infected humans, horses, birds or mosquito pools in 62 of Alabama's 67 counties. Extended Web Coverage

West Nile virus Facts

  • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

Source: contributed to this report