State health officials have confirmed 28 cases of West Nile illness in Texas this year, including two deaths.
As of Oct. 29, most of the confirmed cases have been identified in El Paso with 13, according to data from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Other cases have been confirmed in Brazoria, Dallas, El Paso, Floyd, Hale, Harris, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Nolan, Tarrant, and Tom Green counties.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Most people exposed to the virus don’t get sick, but about 20% develop symptoms like headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea, and fatigue. In a very small proportion, less than 1%, the virus affects the nervous system, leading to a more serious illness that can cause neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and even death.
To help keep your community safe, remind patients to take steps to avoid mosquito bites and to reduce mosquito populations, such as:
- Regularly applying EPA-registered insect repellent while outdoors;
- Dumping out all standing water inside and outside homes and businesses so mosquitoes can’t lay eggs;
- Using air-conditioning or making sure window and door screens are in good repair to keep mosquitoes out; and
- Covering up with long sleeves and long pants to help prevent bites.
Last year, 146 cases of West Nile illness were reported in Texas, resulting in 11 deaths.
Find more information on mosquito-borne viruses on the DSHS website. And be sure to check out this Texas Medicine magazine article from last year that takes an in-depth look at vector-borne diseases in the Lone Star State.