BRITS have been warned after a mosquito-borne virus that causes brain swelling was detected in Florida, according to officials.
The virus, known as Eastern equine encephalitis, was found in “several sentinel chickens in the same flock”, last week.
The state’s health department said: “There has been an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in areas of Orange County.
“The risk of transmission to humans has increased.”
While there’s only an average of seven cases of the virus reported in the US each year, it’s known to be fatal about 30 per cent of the the time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency said on its website: “Persons over age 50 and under age 15 seem to be at greatest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEEV.
“EEEV infection can result in one of two types of illness, systemic or encephalitic (involving swelling of the brain, referred to below as EEE).
“The type of illness will depend on the age of the person and other host factors.”
Know the signs
People who contract the virus typically start to notice symptoms about four to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, according to the CDC.
These include a fever, headache, chills, diarrhoea and irritability.
The agency says: “Death usually occurs two to 10 days after onset of symptoms but can occur much later.
“Of those who recover, many are left with disabling and progressive mental and physical sequelae, which can range from minimal brain dysfunction to severe intellectual impairment, personality disorders, seizures, paralysis, and cranial nerve dysfunction.
“Many patients with severe sequelae die within a few years.”
What are the symptoms of encephalitis?
Encephalitis is a serious condition which causes the sufferer’s brain to swell.
It can be life threatening and and requires urgent treatment in hospital.
Anyone can be affected by the disease but the very young and elderly are most at risk.
According to the NHS website, symptoms can start off flu-like – including a high temperature and headache – but this isn’t always the case.
More serious symptoms develop over hours, days or weeks, including:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Changes in personality and behaviour
- Difficulty speaking
- Weakness or loss of movement in some parts of the body
- Loss of consciousness
If someone has any of these more serious symptoms, dial 999 immediately.
People in the Sunshine State have been urged to protect themselves by draining and discarding items that may hold water and attract mosquitoes.
It’s also vital to keep your body covered with appropriate clothing and wear insect repellent.
State officials said: “The Department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya and dengue.
“Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s site.”
Florida – home to the Walt Disney World Resort – is a popular tourist destination for Brits every year, especially during the summer holidays.
The British government advises travellers to take suitable steps to avoid being bitten.
A guide from the British Consulate in Miami says: “There are occasional outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Dengue Fever and the Chickungunya virus.
“Take suitable steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes!”
It also urges British tourists to take out adequate travel health insurance and keep these documents safe.
Best way to beat mozzie bites
Are you one of those people who, no matter what you do, are the equivalent of mozzie food?
Well your first step is prevention – and insect repellants are key.
The incognito insect repellent range provides protection against mosquitoes and other biting insects, anywhere in the world. They are made from 100% natural ingredients and are parabens, SLS & DEET free.
The range includes suncream, hair & bodywash, moisturiser, spray, roll-on and much more.
Bite prevention expert, Howard Carter, who is also the company’s MD, said: “Many people are experiencing more bites because they are making themselves more attractive (or irresistible) by drinking alcohol whilst washing with ordinary scented toiletries.
“Over the counter personal washing products nearly always attract mosquitoes and other biting insects.
“Therefore, using a citrusy or repellent Hair and Body wash or soap is important, to lower your attractiveness to insects, otherwise you’re counteracting the positive effects of your insect repellent.”
Perhaps it’s too late and you’ve already been gnawed on. Well, don’t pick it – make sure you treat it with a bite cream.
Anthisan Bite and Sting Cream can provide symptomatic relief of skin irritation caused by insect stings, insect bites and nettle stings.
It contains the active ingredient mepyramine maleate (2%), a topical antihistamine which stops the histamine affecting your body’s cells by blocking histamine receptors on cells, preventing the inflammatory cascade and so reducing swelling and inflammation.
Anthisan Bite and Sting Cream (20g) retails at £3.66 and is available from leading pharmacies and supermarkets.
“Medical treatment is expensive and there are no special arrangements for British visitors,” they sau.
“There are walk-in medical clinics at most pharmacies, but if you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance.
“Contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.”
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