Hood County now has four cases of West Nile virus officially confirmed by testing. Meanwhile, last weekend both Dallas County and Tarrant County added one death to their West Nile statistics.
The website of the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) shows that Hood County has had two cases of West Nile fever and two cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND). One of those Hood County residents died in August after contracting West Nile.
Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, said that Hood County’s fourth case was confirmed on Sept. 26. It was the milder form, West Nile fever, Van Deusen said.
He noted that with cooler weather gradually creeping in, the danger is decreasing.
“Certainly, as expected, we’re seeing fewer new cases,” said Van Deusen, who explained that mosquitoes tend to be less active as the temperatures become cooler. “We expect the number to continue to taper off as we move into the fall.”
People age 50 and older are at higher risk from severe disease if they contract West Nile, according to the TDSHS website. Those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk for West Nile Virus.
A couple of Hood County residents who were out and about town on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon indicated they weren’t overly worried – but both continue to take precautions as advised.
“I’m not particularly concerned about it,” said Darrell Vinson, 71, of Pecan Plantation. “I try to stay in, in the afternoon when the little devils are all out.”
Mary Carter, an 82-year-old resident of deCordova who has lived in the county 24 years, said she has a patio but avoids using it during the riskier hours.
“I do not go out from 5 to 9,” Carter said. “I’m just real careful when I do go out, anytime. I know it’s wicked stuff.”
Carter said a friend of her daughter apparently had some West Nile symptoms recently, and missed about two weeks of work time.
WNND symptoms can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. About one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop WNND.
The milder West Nile fever can cause fever, headaches, body aches and sometimes skin rash. But most people infected will show no signs of illness.
State health officials recommend using insect repellant that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and clothing. Other key precautions include wearing long sleeves and long pants while outside, and remaining indoors at dusk and dawn – as well as other times when mosquitoes appear to be most active.
Also, be sure to drain standing water that may accumulate in old tires, flower pots and clogged rain gutters.
West Nile is transmitted primarily through bites from infected mosquitoes. There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from person to person, or between an animal and a person.
The incubation period for West Nile virus is 3 to 14 days. Symptoms of the disease for those who contract the more severe type can last several weeks, but neurological effects can be permanent.
Dallas County has had by far the most West Nile deaths in the state, with 17. Tarrant County ranks second with 8 deaths.
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