The West Nile virus victimized its first person in Alachua County this year.
A 64-year-old man was diagnosed with West Nile virus Oct. 15 after being bitten by a mosquito infected with the virus.
A team of researchers are conducting experiments and performing research methods that will allow them to understand the origination of the West Nile virus, Paul Myers, Florida Department of Health in Alachua County administrator, said.
The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County is collecting samples of mosquitoes in strategic areas, Myers said. The samples are used to see what kinds, if any, of mosquito are carrying the virus, and the area where they are found. A second method of research is used where chickens are positioned around the country to see if they contract the virus from previously infected mosquitoes.
The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County is assessing the retention rate for mosquito breeding and obtaining information from local physicians and veterinarians on West Nile cases in human and animal populations in the surrounding area, like Gainesville.
The first case of West Nile virus is thought to be due to the consistent rainfall in Alachua County this summer, Paul Khoeler, a University of Florida bug expert, said. This caused more standing water than normal, which is where mosquitoes like to breed.
This September, Alachua County has seen the largest amount of infectious mosquitoes in the last six years due to tropical storms and consistent warm weather, Khoeler said.
“Seventy percent of Alachua County residents live in an area or municipality where there is comprehensive mosquito control. The city of Gainesville specifically larvicides and adulticides with mosquito spray in order to reduce and control the amount of mosquitoes in the area,” Myers said.
People should take precautions to avoid bug bites due to the high level of mosquitoes in the area, Myers said. He suggested wearing long sleeves, long pants, shoes, socks and bug repellent.