Confirmed Cases of West Nile on the Rise
West Nile is a virus carried in birds, which can spread to people by mosquito bites. The virus has returned annually since 2002 when it first appeared in the state.
Most people bitten by a West Nile-infected mosquito will suffer no symptoms, however about 20 percent will develop a high fever, body aches and a possibly severe headache. About one in 150 people will suffer more severe symptoms, including encephalitis, meningitis and a polio-like paralysis.
Typically, the mosquito season runs from April through October.
In 2013, 16 Dallas County residents had confirmed cases of West Nile and two of them died. The summer of 2012 was worse with over 400 human cases in Dallas County and 20 deaths.
In previous years, in areas where mosquito pools tested positive for West Nile, there were more reports of human cases on West Nile in September and October. Often it takes a month or even longer for the public to be alerted. It can take weeks from the time a person is bitten, to develop symptoms and get a confirmed diagnosis and then report it to local health authorities.
Health officials urge the public to take protective measures by utilizing the ‘4Ds’ to reduce the risk of West Nile virus:
DEET All Day, Every Day: Whenever you’re outside, use insect repellants that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
DRESS: Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing outside.
DRAIN: Remove all areas of standing water in and around your home.
DUSK & DAWN: Limit outdoor activities during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active.
Another virus that is transmitted by mosquitos is the Chikungunya virus, with the second case in Dallas County confirmed yesterday. The virus brings with it an out-of-nowhere high fever and severe joint pain, and perhaps even headache, muscle pain and rashes. It’s not fatal, it can be “disabling.”
And just like West Nile, there is no vaccine for Chikungunya.