West Nile virus confirmed here

August 18, 2012

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The first case of a Hood County resident contracting West Nile Virus was confirmed when test results were received on Monday, Aug. 13, officials said.

Hood County Environmental Health Director James McAusland said the infected person is a male who is being treated in a Tarrant County hospital.

“A doctor in Fort Worth confirmed one of his patients that lived in Hood County had contracted West Nile,” said McAusland, who presented the information to the Hood County Commissioners at their Tuesday night meeting.

“They don’t know where he may have contracted the disease,” McAusland said of the virus, which is transmitted to humans through bites from infected female mosquitoes. Mosquitoes get infected when they bite infected birds.

There is no current vaccine available to prevent West Nile virus. It can take about seven days to get test results back from a lab, officials said.

Although there has been no official confirmation from state or local health officials, a second Hood County man was confirmed by a positive test as having West Nile virus on Wednesday, according to a friend of the man’s family.

SYMPTOMS

Kerri Sistrunk, Trauma Medical Director at Lake Granbury Medical Center noted that most people infected experience only mild, flu-like symptoms that last a few days.

“Symptoms usually appear within 3 to 14 days of infection,” Sistrunk said. “The symptoms of West Nile virus may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.”

About 20 percent of those who become infected with West Nile virus develop West Nile fever. Those symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash on trunk of body, and swollen lymph glands.

The more severe form of the virus (West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis, or West Nile meningoencephalitis), present in only one in 150 cases, occurs when the virus crosses the blood-brain barrier, according to information provided by Sistrunk.

Symptoms of the West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis, and West Nile meningoencephalitis may include:

Headache

High fever

Neck stiffness

Stupor (a state of impaired consciousness, extreme lethargy)

Disorientation

Coma

Tremors or convulsions

Muscle weakness

Paralysis

(More details at www.cdc.gov)

TIPS

The good news is that West Nile virus infection in humans is rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Healthy, active adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile virus,” McAusland said. “One bite from an infected mosquito can lead to a severe illness and possibly life-altering illness. Prevention is the key to protection.”

The CDC said the virus is not spread between humans.

SPRAYING

Alva Cox, public works director for Granbury, said that the city has been spraying to kill mosquitoes for approximately the past five to six years.

“We spray at night, after about 9 or 10 through 1 a.m.,” Cox said, noting that wind speeds must be between 1 and 10 mph, also due to state law.

County Commissioner Steve Berry said that county-wide spraying is not in the budget.

“That’s something we’ll have to look closer at,” Berry said.

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