Summer could be active mosquito season, including West Nile Virus.
Thus far in Texas, three people have died from West Nile Virus (WNV)—two deaths in Dallas County and one death in McLennan County. In Austin/Travis County there has been one confirmed case of West Nile neuroinvasive illness--a more serious form of WNV. That patient remains hospitalized.
Most people who are infected with the West Nile Virus will not have any type of illness. It is estimated that 20% of the people who become infected will develop West Nile fever with mild, flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands. Persons over 50 years of age are at a higher risk for severe disease.
Since 2003, WNV positive mosquito pools (sampling of mosquitoes at various locations over a 24-hour period) have been identified throughout the local area. This year is no exception. Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services is experiencing increasing numbers of pools positive for WNV. WNV is a fact of life in Central Texas—it is here in the environment to stay.
The main route of human West Nile virus infection is through the bite of an infected mosquito. Reducing the number of mosquitos in areas where people work and play is perhaps the most important step in preventing West Nile virus. By draining all sources of standing water in and around your property, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.
Additionally, always follow the four D's.
Dusk and Dawn- Stay indoors during dusk and dawn. That's the time when mosquitoes likely to carry the infection are most active.
Dress: Wear pants and long sleeves when you are outside, especially in mosquito-infested areas.
DEET: Apply insect repellent that contains DEET. Read and follow label instructions. Spray both exposed skin and clothing with repellent.
Drain: Get rid of standing water in your yard and neighborhood. Old tires, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, leaky pipes and faucets, birdbaths, and wading pools can be breeding sites for mosquitos.