The virus spreads to people by the bite of an infected mosquito
Austin, Texas – Austin Public Health (APH) has identified the year’s first probable human case of West Nile Virus disease in an adult resident of northern Travis County. Last week, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced the year’s first human case for the State of Texas in Tarrant County.
West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States and is typically spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile Virus is not spread through coughing or sneezing, or by touching live animals.
Most people who are infected with West Nile Virus will not have any type of illness. It is estimated that 20% of the people who become infected will develop 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. Individuals over 50 years of age are at a higher risk for severe disease, which may include stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, vision loss, and paralysis.
“The first probable human case of West Nile Virus disease serves as a reminder to take precautions to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, which can then bite and infect people in our community,” said Janet Pichette, APH Chief Epidemiologist. “Like many other diseases, we have the power to prevent West Nile Virus by draining standing water, limiting time spent outdoors, and wearing appropriate clothing and DEET when outdoors.”
Mosquitoes are present in Central Texas year-round, but the population is largest and most active from May through November. During this period, our Rodent and Vector Control Program monitors the mosquito population and tests for mosquito-borne viruses.
PH reported the year’s first positive pool of mosquitoes (PDF) carrying West Nile Virus in the 78756-zip code of Travis County, followed by a second positive pool in the 78751-zip code.
The most important way to prevent West Nile Virus is to reduce the number of mosquitoes where people work and play. Mosquitoes can only breed in standing water and need as little as one teaspoon. 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.
Fight the Bite Day and Night with the Four Ds:
- Dusk through dawn: Although different species of mosquitoes are active at different times of day, the species that spread West Nile Virus are most active between dusk and dawn.
- Dress: Wear pants and long sleeves when you are outside. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; mosquito repellent clothing is also available
- 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, birdbaths and wading pools can be breeding sites for mosquitoes.
For more information on West Nile Virus, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/WestNile.