At Least 18 Miami-Dade County Residents Have Contracted West Nile Virus, Health Officials Say

West Nile is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S., but only about 1 in 150 infected people develop serious illness

Miami Dade County
Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty

Miami-Dade County health officials have reported four new cases of West Nile virus, bringing the county's total to 18 cases so far this year.

According to the Miami Herald, the Florida Department of Health confirmed on Friday that four residents contracted the West Nile virus through local transmission.

The first two cases of West Nile virus in Miami-Dade were confirmed by the Florida Department of Health on May 9. Officials confirmed two more cases on June 10, followed by ten more cases on June 25.

The county is now under a mosquito-borne-illness alert.

William Petrie, the county's mosquito-control chief, said last week, per the Miami Herald, that the resurgence of West Nile likely reflects the heavy rains that cause mosquito populations to explode.

Aedes aegypti (dengue, zika, yellow fever mosquito) biting human skin, frontal view
Mosquito. Getty

West Nile is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States. There are currently no vaccines to prevent it or medications to treat it.

According to the CDC, 80 percent of those infected with the virus have no noticeable symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.

The most effective way to reduce risk of contracting West Nile is to use insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites, the CDC says.

Florida is also in the midst of experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, the state reported 11,458 new cases of the respiratory illness — a new single-day record.

In total, the state now has over 200,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, while at least 3,730 people in the state have died, according to the New York Times.

Despite the surge, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that the state will not reel in its efforts to reopen the economy.

We're not going back, closing things,” he said last Wednesday. “I don't think that that's really what's driving it. People going to a business is not what's driving it. I think when you see the younger folks — I think a lot of it is more just social interactions, so that's natural.”

Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida. EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images

Despite his comments, many counties in Florida have decided to reverse course on reopenings, including Miami-Dade, where the beaches were closed for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Other states, including California, Arizona and Texas, have also become hotspots for new coronavirus cases.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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