Health officials have confirmed the first case of West Nile virus in Travis County, amid reports of two deaths in Dallas County and one death in McClennan County as a result of the virus earlier this month.
According to the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, this active mosquito season, caused by the recent rains, is cause for some concern for Central Texas residents as health officials confirm several deaths as a result of the West Nile virus (WNV).
“We had a mild winter so it didn’t kill off the mosquitoes and then the recent rains have really provided a perfect sort of opportunity for more mosquitoes to be around,” said Dr. Phil Huang, with Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services, in an interview with ABC-affiliate KVUE.
In Travis County, there has been one confirmed case of West Nile neuroinvasive illness, a more serious form of the virus. That person is currently hospitalized and health officials have not released any further details. The age or sex of the infected resident or where in Travis County he or she is from is unknown.
Across Texas, there have been three reported deaths attributed to the West Nile Virus. Two in Dallas County and one in McLennan County.
The first victim in Dallas County, a male in his 60s with underlying health problems, was the nation’s first death from the virus this year. The second victim was 81-year-old Charles Pistor, former vice chairman of First Republicbank and a former SMU vice chairman and a one-time president of The Dallas Assembly.
In McClennan County, the victim was 80-years-old. Health officials report that there have been at least five confirmed cases in McClennan County.
According to Huang “80 percent of the people will have no symptoms. 20 percent of the people will have some mild symptoms, but there is that one in 150 who can really get severe illness.”
The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services has been doing WNV testing and have experienced an increasing numbers of pools positive for WNV.
To minimize mosquito bites and significantly reduce your risk of contracting a mosquito-borne disease, always follow the 4-Ds.
- DUSK / DAWN are the times of day you should try to stay indoors. Mosquitoes are most active during these periods.
- DRESS in long sleeves and pants when you’re outside. For extra protection, spray thin clothing with insect repellent.
- DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and Picaridin are two EPA registered products evaluated by the CDC and identified as “conventional repellents”. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and IR3535 are two other EPA registered products evaluated by the CDC and identified as “biopesticide repellents”. A product containing any one of these active ingredients provides repellent activity sufficient to help people avoid the bites of disease carrying mosquitoes and typically offers reasonably long-lasting protection. Follow all label instructions and always wear repellent when outdoors.
- DRAIN standing water in your yard and neighborhood regularly – old tires, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, leaky pipes and faucets, birdbaths, wading pools or anything that can hold even a small amount of water are all potential mosquito breeding sites.
To report a mosquito problem in your neighborhood, call 311 or 512-978-0370 or send an email through the city of Austin website.