Texas Confirms First West Nile Case of the Season
July 3, 2014
The Texas Department of State Health Servicestoday confirmed the state’s first case of West Nile illness of the season. DSHSis urging people to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WestNile virus, a mosquito-borne illness.
“The best way to protect yourself is by usinginsect repellent every time you go outside,” said Tom Sidwa, State PublicHealth Veterinarian and manager of the Zoonosis Control Branch. “West Nile virus can make people verysick, with symptoms that can last for weeks or months.”
West Nile fever was confirmed in a patient from TravisCounty. Additional details about the patient are not being released to protectthe patient’s identity.
The West Nile season typically runs from Junethrough October. Last year, there were 183 human cases of West Nile illness inTexas, including 14 deaths. The 2012 season was an unprecedented yearfor West Nile with record numbers of cases and deaths reported in the state. The intensity of West Nile activityin Texas fluctuates from year to year and is difficult to predict. It dependson a variety of factors including the weather, the numbers of birds andmosquitoes that maintain and spread the virus and human behavior. The seasoncan last up until the first hard freeze of the year.
To reduce exposure to West Nile virus:
- Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products.
- Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus breed in stagnant water.
- Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
Symptoms of themilder form of illness, West Nile fever, can include headache, fever, muscleand joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typicallyrecover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. Symptoms ofthe more serious form of illness, West Nile neuroinvasive disease, can includethose of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma,tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Up to 80 percent of peopleinfected with the virus will have no symptoms.
There are nomedications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. Peopleover 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk ofbecoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus. Ifpeople have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contacttheir healthcare provider.
For current case counts, visit: www.dshs.state.tx.us/sites/default/files/news/updates.shtm.For disease background and more information, go to: www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/arboviral/westNile/.
(News Media Contact:Christine Mann, DSHS Press Officer, 512-776-7511.)