Texas Confirms First West Nile Case of the Season
AUSTIN, July 4, 2014 - The Texas Department of State Health Services today confirmed the state’s first case of West Nile illness of the season. DSHS is urging people to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness.
“The best way to protect yourself is by using insect repellent every time you go outside,” said Tom Sidwa, State Public Health Veterinarian and manager of the Zoonosis Control Branch. “West Nile virus can make people very sick, with symptoms that can last for weeks or months.”
West Nile fever was confirmed in a patient from Travis County. Additional details about the patient are not being released to protect the patient’s identity.
The West Nile season typically runs from June through October. Last year, there were 183 human cases of West Nile illness in Texas, including 14 deaths. The 2012 season was an unprecedented year for West Nile with record numbers of cases and deaths reported in the state. The intensity of West Nile activity in Texas fluctuates from year to year and is difficult to predict. It depends on a variety of factors including the weather, the numbers of birds and mosquitoes that maintain and spread the virus and human behavior. The season can last up until the first hard freeze of the year.
To reduce exposure to West Nile virus:
Symptoms of the milder form of illness, West Nile fever, can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks.
Symptoms of the more serious form of illness, West Nile neuroinvasive disease, can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Up to 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contact their healthcare provider.
For current case counts, visit: www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/updates.shtm. For disease background and more information, go to: www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/arboviral/westNile/.