State health officials are urging people to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness, after the state confirmed its first case of the illness for the season.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said Friday the West Nile illness was confirmed in an adult male from Anderson County. The patient is recovering from the neuroinvasive form of the disease. Additional details about the patient are not being released to protect the patient’s identity.
“This is a serious illness that can take a long-lasting toll,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner. “Last season was unprecedented, with record numbers of cases and deaths reported in Texas. People need to do all they can to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
Last year, Texas reported 1,868 human cases of West Nile illness, including 89 deaths.
State health officials said the intensity of West Nile virus activity in Texas fluctuates from year to year and 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, DSHS has the following recommendations:
- 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 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread WNV 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.
To learn more about symptoms and ways to defend yourself against the West Nile illness, click here. http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/arboviral/westNile/