Protection Urged against West Nile Virus
Galveston County and Cities – Summertime is here and people are spending more time outdoors which has prompted the Galveston County Health District to remind them that it is also West Nile virus (WNV) season. While WNV can be detected all year long it is most prevalent in the warmer summer months.
Recently the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced there has been a higher than usual number of human West Nile cases this year in Texas. 111 human West Nile virus cases and one death have been reported to DSHS this year. The last identified human cases of West Nile virus infection in Galveston County was in 2010 when two cases were reported.
Humans can contract West Nile virus from a mosquito bite. Infected mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds and mammals. The virus can cause serious illness or death. West Nile neuroinvasive disease symptoms include stiff neck, visual problems, body tremors, mental confusion, memory loss and seizures. The milder form of the illness is West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and bone aches, nausea and drowsiness.
Because West Nile virus is now part of our environment, residents are encouraged to help eliminate mosquito breeding sites and prevent mosquito-borne diseases. Some of the things that can be done include:
- Use an approved insect repellant every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Approved repellants are those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Regularly drain standing water, including water collected in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutter and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes 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.
County Health Authority Dr. Mark Guidry says, “Our message is still the same. Be aware of West Nile virus and take precautions to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.”
For more information the public is encouraged to visit the CDC web site at: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/ or call Galveston County Health District Epidemiology Services at (409) 938- 2322.