Texas’ first West Nile illness of the year has been reported to the Department of State Health Services, an adult woman from Montgomery County who developed the neurologic form of the disease in late April.
As mosquito counts climb, the state of Texas is appealing to the public to help with the effort to stop mosquito-borne diseases by preventing mosquito bites and eliminating areas where mosquitoes can reproduce.
“Diseases like Zika and West Nile remain threats in Texas, and we need everyone to do their part to protect themselves, their families and their communities,” said DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt. “These are simple steps, and if people take them consistently, they will go a long way toward reducing the number of cases of either disease transmitted in Texas.”
To help stop the spread of Zika and West Nile, people should
- Use EPA-approved insect repellent every time they go outside.
- Cover exposed skin with long pants and long-sleeved shirts whenever possible.
- Use air conditioning or window and door screens that are in good repair to keep mosquitoes out.
- Limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito times.
- Remove standing water in and around homes, including in trash cans, toys, tires, flower pots and any other containers so mosquitoes can’t lay their eggs.
- Use a larvicide in water that can’t be drained to keep mosquitoes from developing.
In 2016, Texas reported 370 human cases of West Nile illness, including 18 deaths. Most people who get infected don’t get sick, but about 20 percent will experience symptoms like headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. In about one percent of infections, the virus can affect the nervous system, causing neurological symptoms such as disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma and even death.
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