3 West Nile cases confirmed in Texas; Jefferson has positive finding

Published 11:22 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018


By Ken Stickney


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The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed three cases of West Nile disease reported by local health departments in Austin, Dallas and Galveston. The cases include a sole case of neuroinvasive disease reported by Dallas County Health and Human Services.

In addition, the presence of West Nile has been confirmed in a mosquito sample taken in Jefferson County in the week ending June 16, one of 11 Texas counties among 254 counties in the state with confirmations in Texas, a health services spokesman said Tuesday.

“There is no specific caution,” Chris Van Deusen, DSHS director of media relations, said of Jefferson County. “Nothing beyond using (EPA approved) insect repellent, keeping doors and windows closed and making sure screens are intact.”

Van Deusen also said people should dump out standing water where mosquitos might breed around their homes and yards. That would include water in such places as discarded tires. While outside, they might wear long pants and shirt sleeves.

He said Jefferson, part of the state that is “wetter and warmer,” might be more prone to the presence of mosquitos but he said he couldn’t compare the chance of contracting West Nile here as “more or worse” than elsewhere in Texas.

That DSHS state website said people can be infected by West Nile virus through mosquito bites. Texas reported 135 cases of West Nile illness that resulted in six deaths in 2017. There have been more than 3,500 illnesses and 167 deaths in Texas over the last decade.

The website said most people who get infected with West Nile virus don’t get sick. About 20 percent develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include a fever and possibly headache, muscle and joint aches, nausea, diarrhea and fatigue. People usually recover on their own.

“Less than 1 percent of those infected will develop the more severe West Nile neuroinvasive disease, in which the virus infects the nervous system,” the website said. “Symptoms can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, muscle weakness, vision loss, tremors, convulsions, disorientation, coma and paralysis.

“Recovery can take months, and some effects on the nervous system may be permanent. About 1 in 10 people with West Nile neuroinvasive disease die,” the website said.