West Nile seems headed this way

Posted on 18. Jul, 2012 by

The Wise Nile Virus seems to be making a comeback. As you can see from the map above, confirmed cases of West Nile Virus are popping up in many different areas of the state.

You’ll notice that counties immediately to our east (Denton) and south (Parker and Tarrant) already have confirmed cases. Even though it’s not on this map yet, I received a press release yesterday that West Nile has also been confirmed in mosquitoes in Wichita Falls.

It seems to be a matter of time before Wise County has a confirmed case, and it could come as early as this week. We are checking on a local suspected human case of West Nile Virus. Results in that case are expected as early as Friday.

A story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram yesterday called the 16 cases of West Nile in humans in Tarrant County so far this year an “epidemic.” Earlier this week, Dallas County confirmed its first death due to West Nile. At a press conference, city and health officials called Dallas “the epicenter of West Nile this summer.”

I wrote my first ever West Nile story almost exactly 10 years ago today. Much like that year, West Nile was popping up in several nearby locations but had not reached Wise County yet. The first confirmed case, in a horse, was in September. By the end of the year, there were 43 cases – 41 in horses and two in birds.

In 2003, the numbers decreased to 21 cases, but it included Wise County’s first and – so far – only human case of West Nile virus. In the eight years since, only 3 more cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Wise County – all in horses.

The Texas Department of State Health Services offers the following advice on avoiding West Nile:

  1. Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening.
  2. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
  3. Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. An effective repellent may contain 35% DEET. Repellents may bother the eyes and mouth, so try to not apply them to the hands of children.
  4. Spray clothing with insect repellents containing permethrin or DEET, as mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.
  5. Whenever you use an insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the directions for use that are printed on the product label.
  6. It does not appear that a person can get WNV from handling live or dead infected birds. However, use gloves or double plastic bags when handling any dead animals, including birds.
  7. If you leave your house windows open, make sure they have screens.
  8. Do not allow water to stagnate in old tires, flowerpots, trash containers, swimming pools, birdbaths, pet bowls, etc.

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